Town teen starts as Ireland U19s make it two from two
Luton youngster Jack James started once more as Republic of Ireland U19s made it two wins from two in the UEFA European U19 Championships Elite Round by beating Azerbaijan 3-1 in Krasnodar, Russia on Saturday.
Goals from Tyreik Wright, Jason Knight and captain Jonathan Afolabi were enough for Tom Mohan’s side, as the team moved one step closer to this July’s Finals tournament in Armenia.
James played almost the entire game, substituted in stoppage time by Mark McGuinness as his side followed up their 5-0 victory over Romania in style.
Speaking after the match, head coach Mohan said: "It was a different game to the win against Romania.
"Azerbaijan were very difficult to break down, and we have seven U18s and one U17 player in the squad, so for such young players, they showed great composure.
"Russia are our next opponents. The focus is now on them getting recovered and re-energised.
"It was a tough, hard, bruising encounter. The lads showed a lot of character.”
Ireland finish their campaign on Tuesday afternoon against Russia, knowing a draw may be enough to qualify for Armenia in July.
Republic of Ireland: Brian Maher; Andy Lyons, Oisin McEntee, Jack James (Mark McGuinness 90+1), Kameron Ledwidge; Luca Connell (Niall Morahan 90+3), Will Smallbone (Conor Grant 90+1), Jason Knight; Tyreik Wright (Ali Reghba 79), Jonathan Afolabi, Will Ferry (Festy Ebosele 90+3).
Azerbaijan: Nijat Mehbaliyev; Rauf Huseynli (90+2), Ibragim Huseinov, Elnur Ibragimov, Vusal Masimov; Tural Bayramov (Musa Gurbanli 66), Turan Valizada, Shakir Seyidov, Kamran Guliyev (Murad Mahmudov 78); Serhat Tasdemir (Rustam Nuruyev 66); Emil Gasimov (Elvin Jafarguliyev 46).