France outclass Irish

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A stunning goal from Bryan Bergougnoux earned France Under-21s a deserved 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland, which ended Don Givens' side's chances of reaching the European Championship.

The young Irish side were outplayed for the bulk of the game in Cork and were fortunate not to have lost by a greater margin.

Bergougnoux struck the decisive goal on 71 minutes after Anthony Le Tallec's penalty had cancelled out Sunderland team-mate Daryl Murphy's opener.

Le Tallec had the first chance on five minutes but dallied on the ball before the striker somehow failed to divert Franck Ribery's cross beyond Wayne Henderson.

France continued to dictate the pattern of play and Julien Faubert sent a diving header wide of the target and then drilled into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Remarkably, Ireland scored from their first chance on 33 minutes when John Fitzgerald knocked down a free kick which allowed Murphy to swivel and volley past Jeremy Gavanon.

The visitors were level five minutes before half time when Le Tallec converted from the penalty spot after Stephen Kelly had hacked down Ribery.

Ireland almost had the lead again before the break when a cross from the left bounced off the head of French defender Ronald Zubar, forcing Gavanon into a fine save to push the ball on to the post.

France should have taken the lead on 51 minutes when Jimmy Briand scampered clear but he fired straight at Henderson, while Kevin Doyle was unable to convert a cross from close range at the opposite end.

The winner arrived on 71 minutes courtesy of substitute Bergougnoux, who cut inside the penalty area and delivered a delightful curling shot into the far corner of the net.