Little but pride at stake for Ireland


Italy v Republic of Ireland(7.45pm Irish time): As the sun sets on the Republic of Ireland's wretched Euro 2012 campaign, weary Irish fans have been gifted the best day of their stay so far as they gear up for one last hurrah.

In Poznan's Stadion Miesjki , where Ireland take on Italy in their final Group C game this evening, there looks sure to be a less prominent Irish presence than there was against Croatia eight days ago, with tickets being openly flogged around the city's old town this afternoon.

Those who turn up will no doubt carry on where they left off at the end of the demoralising 4-0 defeat to Spain in Gdansk, but whether they will have legitimate reason to do so remains to be seen.

Ireland have looked beaten off the pitch as well as on it since Spain broke records in crushing Giovanni Trapattoni's team. Ireland, who have been left with little to play for other than pride, face an Italian side for whom the possibility of progressing to the knockout stages is sure to be a powerful motivator .

Cesare Prandelli's side need to win by two goals and hope the other game between Spain and Croatia does not end 2-2 or in a higher score draw. A three-nil win for the Italians would consign Ireland to history as the poorest team in the competition's history, so one assumes there will be plenty of motivation to avoid that sort of ignominy.