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Leinster & Munster beat South Region to reach final

Leinster & Munster 2-1 South Region Russia
Christopher Barbour and David O'Sullivan struck in the space of four second-half minutes to send the Irish side into the final.

Christopher Barbour and David O’Sullivan celebrate after Leinster & Munster's victory
Christopher Barbour and David O’Sullivan celebrate after Leinster & Munster's victory ©Sportsfile

Leinster & Munster set up a UEFA Regions' Cup final meeting with host side Braga, coming back from a goal down to get the better of eliminated South Region Russia, Christopher Barbour and David O'Sullivan on target in the space of four second-half minutes.

Barbour fired over from distance within the first minute, as Gerry Smith's side looked to pressure a South Region defence which has looked fragile throughout the tournament. Oleg Sanko's side had shown few flashes of an attacking threat until they were awarded a free-kick just outside the area on 13 minutes.

Goalkeeper Brendan O'Connell lined up a six-man wall, positioning himself at his right-hand post. Aleksandr Ushakov countered that magnificently, lifting his shot directly over the wall and inside the left-hand upright.

With news filtering through at the end of an energy-sapping opening period that Belgrade were ahead against Ankara in the other Group B tie, the Irish went for broke. A Laurence Dunne shot was charged down, with the ball then being fed to Paul Breen at the far post, but the substitute's effort struck the outside of the woodwork. Lacey then sped through on goal, but under pressure from Koporushkin, failed to get his shot on target.

Leinster & Munster got their equaliser on 64 minutes, replacement Barry Kavanagh crossing for Barbour to glance past Koporushkin; the team's cradle celebrations reflected the fact that the goalscorer's partner had given birth to a daughter, Isabella, the day before the game. Within four minutes O'Sullivan provided another new arrival, chasing down O'Connell's upfield ball to slot the winner past the onrushing Koporushkin.

The lively Kavanagh smashed another effort not far off target, and O'Sullivan struck the bar from distance with South Region wilting, but while a third goal did not come, a first Irish final appearance in their fourth UEFA Regions' Cup finals campaign proved ample compensation.