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O'Donoghue brace but Irish in survival scrap

Ireland 3 Scotland 3

On target: Shane O’Donoghue hit two to salvage a draw for Ireland
On target: Shane O’Donoghue hit two to salvage a draw for Ireland

By John Flack

Ireland's men will almost certainly be battling against relegation from the top tier of the European Championship following a disappointing 3-3 draw with Scotland in Antwerp yesterday.

It could have been worse though as it took two goals in the last five minutes for Ireland to salvage a point after they had squandered an early lead to trail 3-1 against a side ranked 10 places lower on the global list.

Shane O'Donoghue, who got the consolation goal in Saturday's opening 5-1 loss to Netherlands, hit two more yesterday including a controversial last-gasp equaliser from the penalty spot, with Australian-born Tim Cross also on target.

Now, Ireland face the daunting task of registering a win over Germany tomorrow if they are to have any chance of avoiding dropping into the relegation group later in the tournament.

The top two finishers in each pool progress to the semi-finals with the bottom two in each playing off in a bid to stay among Europe's elite in 2021.

Points gained in the first phase of the event are carried over, so at present Scotland and Ireland have one apiece although Ireland coach Alexander Cox felt his side should have had all three yesterday.

The Dutchman said: "We got out of jail but if there was one team that deserved to win today, it was us, not Scotland. The way we defend as a group and individuals, I am not too happy. On the ball, I am quite happy with what we are doing.

"If you see the Holland game and this one, the semi-final spot is not one we deserve so we have to see how it goes against Germany or see how it goes in the other pool to make sure we don't get relegated.

"The way we defend in our 25 was not good enough; every little chance they got was dangerous. If we do the same against Germany, we'll have a big problem."

Ireland took the lead in the 12th minute when O'Donoghue fired home unmarked after great play by Ulster's John Jackson.

But the Scots levelled in the 18th minute when Kenny Bain swept the ball high into the net.

Three minutes into the second half, Bain got his second when he converted a penalty corner rebound after Mark Ingram had saved his initial effort.

With nine minutes left Craig Falconer made it 3-1 from another follow up, this time after Ingram had denied Alan Forsyth.

Cross pulled one back four minutes later and there were just two minutes remaining when, after an umpires' consultation and video referral, Ireland were awarded a penalty stroke and the cool O'Donoghue converted.

Results: Saturday: Pool A: England 2 Wales 2; Belgium 5 Spain 0. Pool B: Germany 9 Scotland 0; Netherlands 5 Ireland 1 (S O'Donoghue);

Yesterday: Pool A: Spain 5 Wales 1; Belgium 2 England 0. Pool B: Ireland 3 (S O'Donoghue 2, T Cross) Scotland 3; Germany 2 Netherlands 3.

Today: Rest day.

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