The Republic of Ireland under 21s have stretched their lead at the top of Group five of the Uefa under 21 European Championship qualifiers to four points as they comprehensively defeated Israel 4-0 in Tallaght on Monday afternoon.
A superbly taken hat trick from Reece Grego-Cox and a further finish from Harry Charsley was enough to see Ireland seal the victory that sees them consolidate the only qualification spot in the Group ahead of Germany, who have two games in hand.
Noel King's side made a dream start to the match as they took the lead after just 35 seconds through Reece Grego-Cox.
Ryan Manning’s excellent ball across the face of goal picked out his Queens Park Rangers team mate, who gratefully tapped home from a few yards out.
The hosts continued to pile forward in search of more goals and they ought to have doubled their lead after ten minutes but Ronan Curtis drilled just wide of the bottom left corner when through on goal.
Grego-Cox was also guilty of missing a glorious opportunity on 20 minutes as he somehow failed to finish Harry Charsley cross from close range.
And Israel almost made Ireland pay for the profligacy in front of goal moments later when they threatened to snatch an equaliser against the run of play.
Moti Barshazky’s clever through ball created the opening for Manor Soloman but the attacker scuffed his strike past the bottom left corner.
The Republic responded well to the near miss and they finally added a second with the first half drawing to a close.
After excellent work down the left from Reece Grego-Cox’s, Joshua Cullen deftly helped his cross into the path of Harry Charsley and the Everton midfielder tucked the ball past the keeper.
And things would get even better for the Irish shortly before the half time break as they added a third to all but seal the crucial victory.
Ronan Curtis raced onto a long, hopeful ball over the top of the defence and was fouled as he prodded the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.
The Swiss referee had no alternative but to point to the penalty spot and Grego-Cox calmly rolled the ball into the bottom right corner.
The second half started in a similar manner to how the first ended as Grego-Cox again found the back of the Israel net to complete his hat-trick and put Ireland four to the good.
The striker was the first to react to the loose ball after Ronan Curtis’ initial strike was parried and made no mistake, powering in from close range to make him joint top scorer in the qualifiers with four in total.
Ireland ought to have had another spot-kick midway through the second half after Manning appeared to have been fouled inside the area but it was of little consequence as they comfortably saw the game out.
Republic of Ireland under 21s: Kieran O'Hara , Danny Kane, Corey Whelan, Shaun Donnellan, Ryan Sweeney, Josh Cullen, Declan Rice (Conor Shaughnessy 77) , Harry Charsley (Joseph Quigley 81), Reece Grego-Cox (Jake Mulraney 69), Ryan Manning, Ronan Curtis.
Subs not used: Liam Bossin, Liam Kinsella, Connor Ronan, Ryan Delaney.
Bookings: Corey Whelan (45 +1) and Declan Rice (49).
Israel under 21s: Omri Glazer, Yosef Raz Meir, Shay Pinhas Ben David, Maron Ghantus (Noam Gamoun 12, (Raz Nahmias 70)) , Amit Bitton, Maxim Plakushchenko, Eliel Peretz, Shon Zalman Weissman, Manor Soloman, Ameer Nassar, Moti Barshazky.
Subs not used: Sahar Hasson, Matan Hozez, Yonatan Cohen, Mohammad Awwad, Daniel Avraham.
Bookings: Maron Ghantus (7), Omri Glazer (37) and Shay Pinhas Ben David (45 +1 ).
Referee: San Fedayi (Switzerland).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the match: Reece Grego-Cox.