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Kahovka snuff out Irish hopes

Republic of Ireland 2-4 Kahovka-Kzeso The Ukrainian team's revival denies Ireland although both sides bow out.

Republic of Ireland blew their chances of a place in the UEFA Regions' Cup final as they let a two-goal lead slip to lose 4-2 against Kahovka-Kzeso.

Fabulous start
Gerry Smith's side looked to be heading for a comfortable victory as they took a 2-0 lead in the opening six minutes, but after a sensational second-half fightback from their Ukrainian opponents in Brzesko, it was Spanish representatives Vasca who were the happiest team. A second successive win saw them top Group B and thanks to today's result, they cannot be caught by Kahovka-Kzeso due to their three-point lead and victory against the Ukrainians on the opening day.

Lobbed finish
Barely two minutes into the game, the Irish, who drew 1-1 with Dacia on Sunday, found themselves in the lead as defender Ian Cherry spotted Kahovka goalkeeper Vladimir Tsybulko off his line and beat him with a sensational lob from the left from all of 35 metres, and matters were to become even more desperate for Kahovka-Kzeso four minutes later.

Fine header
Once more, the ball was delivered into the box from the left, and this time Wayne Griffin rose to meet it, beating the goalkeeper with a fine header from all of 12 metres. The Irish had chances to add to their lead in the remainder of the half, but Viktor Kovalenko's men held firm until the interval and were to re-emerge as a changed side.

Goalkeeping change
Having swapped Tsybulko for Genadiy Golovenko in the interval, they went into the second half with a new goalkeeper and nothing to lose, and hauled their way back into the game after Sergey Chudak converted a 58th-minute penalty. They were to be on level terms 12 minutes later.

Impressive Chudak
With the Irish looking rattled, a ball from the left met the head of Aleksey Ananichev and with goalkeeper David Conroy committed, the Ukrainian made a fine finish. Matters were to go from bad to worse for the Irish, who might have been anticipating a final-day all-or-nothing game against Vasca on Thursday, when the impressive Chudak scored his side's third after 75 minutes.

Sucker punch
Smith's men threw everything at their opponents in order to secure the equaliser that would have resurrected their title hopes, but it was to be Kahovka who completed the scoring, as a swift counterattack left them three-on-one with the goalkeeper. Vitaly Kaminev had little problem finding the 89th-minute finish.