O'Connor double earns Ireland win against Greece

Greece 1-2 Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland enjoyed the perfect start to Group A courtesy of a goal in each half from Anthony O'Connor in Buftea.

Anthony O'Connor (centre) rejoices after scoring Ireland's winning goal
Anthony O'Connor (centre) rejoices after scoring Ireland's winning goal ©Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland opened their UEFA European Under-19 Championship Group A campaign with a 2-1 victory against Greece.

Ireland reached the finals courtesy of an elite-round win against Italy and they were celebrating again after just two minutes in Buftea, Anthony O'Connor smartly volleying in Sean Murray's corner from the right. Giorgos Katidis drew Greece level three minutes later, but another O'Connor strike early in the second half wrapped up maximum points.

That had not always looked certain, however, after Katidis handed Leonidas Vokolos's side such a swift response with a thumping volley. John Egan almost inadvertently restored Ireland's lead when he deflected Murray's centre goalwards, only for Stefanos Kapino to save. The Greece goalkeeper was called into action again later in the half, this time touching Anthony Forde's cross onto the upright.

Vokolos's charges rallied and looked to take advantage from several set-piece opportunities, the most menacing of which looped dangerously towards Ireland's area, where goalkeeper Aaron McCarey punched clear.

Having enjoyed a lightning start to the first period, Paul Doolin's team hit the front six minutes after the interval. Murray's quick corner to Samir Carruthers allowed the Aston Villa FC player to hit a cross to the far post, where O'Connor was again well-placed to knock in.

Greece counted holders France among their victims to make it to this stage of the tournament and were desperate not to start their campaign in Romania on the wrong foot. Katidis looked for goal but blasted wide, before later being denied by McCarey, while Giannis Potouridis and Anastasios Bakasetas also went close with time ticking away. The equaliser failed to materialise and Ireland held on.