John Peacock's England made a positive start in UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round Group 5, but were made to work for their three points.
Northern Ireland goalkeeper Conor Brennan made early saves to deny Hallam Hope and Blair Turgott, before Paul Kee's side went ahead, with Seamus McCartan firing in off a post on 35 minutes. However, their lead lasted just six minutes before Hope sent Turgott through, and this time he made no mistake against Brennan.
A penalty two minutes after the break was converted by Hope to put England ahead, and Nicholas Powell made it 3-1 on 49 minutes, following a corner from Alex Henshall. Samuel Magri's foul on Joshua Barton allowed McCartan to claw one back for Northern Ireland from the spot, but there was no late drama in Geel.
"We made life really difficult for ourselves," said Peacock afterwards. "We went 1-0 down from probably Northern Ireland's first good attack, through a mistake of our own.
We had a good response from the players to equalise in first half and then obviously the early goals in second half made it 3-1, but we created the same silly problem again by giving a stupid penalty away. Generally I am pleased with the performance of the players, who tried to do the right things, but they just need to manage the game a little bit better."
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|1||Jordan Pickford (GK)||1||Conor Brennan (GK)|
|2||Jordan Cousins||2||Ryan McLaughlin (C)|
|3||Bradley Smith||4||Joseph Jones|
|4||John Lundstram||5||Patrick McNally|
|6||Nathaniel Chalobah (C)||7||Joshua Barton|
|15||Samuel Magri||11||Paul McElroy|
|16||Alex Henshall||13||Thomas Healey|
|13||Ben Garratt (GK)||12||Christopher Johns (GK)|
|5||Adam Jackson||10||Dominic Ball|
|12||Matthew Regan||18||David McAllister|
|John Peacock (ENG)||Paul Kee (NIR)|
|Martin Strömbergsson (SWE)|
|Daniel Gustavsson (SWE), Tom Dens (BEL)|
|Yuri Cosco (BEL)|