Republic of Ireland U21 1-0 Andorra U21: Connolly strike spares blushes

Noel King's side managed to record a narrow win over the minnows thanks to Dylan Connolly's decisive goal
Dylan Connolly's first-half strike was the difference as the Republic of Ireland opened their Uefa Under-21 European Championship qualifying campaign a 1-0 win over Andorra at the RSC in Waterford.

Ahead of the game, U-21 boss Noel King issued a challenge to his players to "justify" their tag of favourites but, while Ireland dominated the game for long spells, they found a resilient Andorra difficult to break down.

King's side bossed the opening exchanges with Manchester City midfielder Jack Byrne controlling proceedings and the first meaningful attempt on goal came on the 17th minute when a powerful shot by Ipswich Town winger Dylan Connolly was well saved by the Andorran keeper.

The Boys in Green eventually took the lead in the 31st minute when a Conor Wilkinson shot was parried by Victor Pinto into the path of Kenny McEvoy who squared to former Shelbourne winger Connolly to tap home from two yards.

The second half was much of the same with Andorra keeping men behind the ball to stifle the lively Irish attack. The visitors had the ball in the net with 10 minutes to go when a long ball was headed home by Aaron Sanchez, but, luckily for Ireland, the offside flag was up and cut short the striker's celebrations.

Despite the late scare, Connolly's goal was ultimately sufficient to secure maximum points. King's men will face off against Andorra once again when they resume their campaign in September, before taking on Lithuania and Germany in October.