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Republic of Ireland under-21s suffer major Euro 2017 blow

Bad result for Noel King's Under-21 side
Bad result for Noel King's Under-21 side

The Republic of Ireland Under-21s' bid to qualify for Euro 2017 suffered a huge blow after a 3-1 defeat in Slovenia.

Oxford's Callum O'Dowda netted a consolation goal as the hosts cruised to victory after strikes from Luka Krajn, Miha Zajc in-between Gregor Bajde's penalty.

Noel King's side lost 4-1 to Group 2 leaders Italy in Waterford on Thursday and needed victory to put their hopes of reaching Poland for next year's European Under-21 Championship back on course.

But they slipped to a fourth straight qualifying defeat and must now win all of their final three games to stand any chance of at least making the play-offs.

The loss left them fourth in Group 2, four points behind Serbia and six behind their hosts, after a disappointing defeat in Koper on Monday.

They trailed after 14 minutes when Cagliari defender and Slovenia captain Krajnc bundled in from close range after Ireland failed to deal with a corner.

The visitors failed to hit back and fell further behind 10 minutes after the break when Sean Long conceded a penalty to allow Bajde to double Slovenia's lead.

Ireland did manage to pull a goal back when O'Dowda's low effort squeezed under Slovenia keeper Grega Sorcan to make it 2-1 after 65 minutes.

Any hopes of a revival were ended though when Zajc thumped in a free kick from the edge of the box seven minutes later.