France took a step closer towards qualification for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs with a 2-1 win against the Republic of Ireland in Cork.
France ease into second
Ireland were hoping to end a run of six games without a win or a clean sheet, and three points from this game would have given them a mathematical chance of qualification. But goals from Anthony Le Tallec and Bryan Bergougnoux eliminated the home side and took France above Switzerland and into second place in Group 4.
Sunderland pair on target
It had looked promising for Ireland when Daryl Murphy put them in front against the run of play on 33 minutes. But Murphy’s Sunderland AFC club-mate Le Tallec made no mistake from the penalty spot four minutes from the break to send the teams in level.
Classy substitute Bergougnoux earned a deserved win for the French with a superb goal on 71 minutes. The Toulouse FC player picked up the ball inside Irish territory and fired a spectacular left-footed shot past goalkeeper Wayne Henderson.
Chance goes begging
Kevin Doyle could have grabbed a share of the spoils but spurned the chance for his seventh goal at Under-21 level. While France will go on to challenge Switzerland for leadership of the group, Ireland coach Don Givens can use his remaining fixtures against Cyprus and Switzerland to blood new players.