Belfast Telegraph

Poland inflict a harsh late blow on Craigan's Northern Ireland U19s

By Stuart McKinley

Poland inflicted a heartbreaking defeat on Northern Ireland in the opening game of the European Under-19 Championships Elite qualifying round.

Karol Swiderski struck his second of the game five minutes from time to give the Poles a 2-1 win and rob Stephen Craigan's team of a point.

Earlier in the game Swiderski opened the scoring from a free-kick in the 14th minute after he had been fouled by Dylan King.

Shayne Lavery equalised for Northern Ireland on 33 minutes when he diverted Mark Sykes' free-kick into the net following a foul on Paul Smyth.

Swiderski's winner came just after Northern Ireland goalkeeper Brett Long had saved from Robert Gumny and Jakub Piotrowski and then saw his shot come back off a post just as the game entered injury time.

Northern Ireland now face hosts Holland tomorrow in a game they must win if they are to keep qualification hopes alive going into the final match against Ukraine next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland under-17 girls lost 5-0 to Spain at Solitude in the second game of their Elite stage qualifiers.

Spain took control when Nerea Eizaguirre scored on 11 and 14 minutes. Laura Gutierrez made it 3-0 later in the first half and two second-half goals from Lorena Navarro sealed the win.

Northern Ireland face Ukraine at Seaview on Sunday (2pm) in their final game.

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