Ireland stun Italy to qualify

The Republic of Ireland claimed a famous 1-0 win over Italy in the final match of Group E to claim their spot in the round of 16 as one of the top third place finishers.

  • Italy 0 Ireland 1
  • Italy make eight changes
  • Ireland dominate first half
  • McClean penalty shout turned down
  • Brady scores late winner

Match Summary

With first place in Group E already secure, Italy coach Antonio Conte made eight changes to his first team for the match against Ireland and it showed.

The Irish needed a win to stand any chance of making it to the next round of the competition, but were unable to break the deadlock despite thoroughly dominating the first half.

Italy showed moments of brilliance in the second period to give Ireland a couple of scares, but it was the Irish who looked more likely to make something happen.

Just when it started to feel like it was too late, Wes Hoolahan crossed the ball for Robbie Brady to head Ireland into the lead in the 84th minute and claim a dramatic win to secure their passage into the round of 16.

Full Report

A new-look Italy side looked unsurprisingly disjointed early on against a determined Ireland side desperate for a win.

Jeff Hendrick hit an early warning shot from just outside the box that flew mere inches outside the post.

The Irish looked particularly dangerous from set pieces and Shane Duffy showed as much by out-muscling his defender to get on the end of a Robbie Brady corner, but his bullet of a header was denied by a fine save from Salvatore Sirigu.

Brady and Duffy linked up again in a similar fashion around the half hour mark, but this time the defender was unable to hit the target.

Italy’s best, and only, chance of the first half fell to Ciro Immobile after the Irish defense inexplicably backed off him about 25 yards from goal and he used the space to thunder a shot at goal, but it flew just wide much to the relief of a beaten Darren Randolph.

Right on the stroke of half time, Ireland should have had a penalty as James McClean got clean through on goal before being bundled over by Federico Bernardeschi, but the referee waved play on, much to the consternation of the Irish team, technical bench and travelling support.

The Italians were slightly improved after the break as the fresh combinations began to gel better, but their moments were as fleeting as they were brilliant.

Simone Zaza nearly scored a fantastic volley from a Mattia De Sciglio cross from the left wing, but it fizzed over the crossbar.

Italy nearly gifted the lead to their opponents with some uncharacteristically sloppy defending as Leonardo Bonucci played a lazy ball out of defense and only succeeded in putting it in the path of Seamus Coleman but his shot was blocked by Angelo Ogbonna.

Substitute Lorenzo Insigne nearly scored for Italy against the run of play as the forward drifted in off the left wing before curling a deft shot around Randolph toward goal. Fortunately for Ireland, the ball hit the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick.

Hoolahan should’ve scored the winning goal for Ireland with 10 minutes to go when he was through one-on-one with Sirigu but he was denied twice by the Italian shot stopper.

However, Ireland were not finished and Hoolahan made up for his sloppy finishing moments later by lobbing a delicious ball into the box for Brady, who nodded his header past Sirigu to give Ireland a famous 1-0 win and book their place in the next round of the European Championship.