Irish hopes of qualification fading fast

Defeat leaves Ireland trailing the Italians by seven points

Republic of Ireland’s Callum O’Dowda and Andrea Conti of Italy. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Republic of Ireland’s Callum O’Dowda and Andrea Conti of Italy. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Republic of Ireland 1 Italy 4

A heavy defeat to Group Two leaders Italy at the Waterford RSC yesterday has all but ended the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21 European qualification ambitions with four games left.

An own-goal engineered by Jack Byrne, in front of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, put Noel King’s side ahead on 17 minutes before Italy turned the game around with a brace before the break and another pair in the second half.

The loss leaves Ireland trailing the Italians by seven points and needing to beat Slovenia on Monday to have any prospect of salvaging a second-place finish.

After being afforded a let-off after eight minutes when Valerio Rosseti skewed wide from close-range, Ireland enjoyed their best period of the game. They had a strong penalty claim rebuffed on 13 minutes as Callum O’Dowda looked to have been shoved by Alessio Barreca and it was from another set-piece four minutes later that the lead came. Byrne whipped in a free-kick from the left and Rolando Mandragora sliced into his own net.

Missed chance

Conor Wilkinson

The Azzurri regained control with two goals in the space of eight minutes. On 28 minutes, Gaetano Monachello picked out Marco Benassi who volleyed the pinpoint pass beyond Danny Rogers. Ireland’s defence was exposed for the second Italian strike. Instead of attacking a long ball, Glen Rea allowed it drop over his head and Monachello crossed from the end-line for Valerio Rosseti to head high into the net.

Any prospect of a Irish revival vanished 13 minutes into the second half as the Italians again caught Ireland napping. From a swiftly-taken free-kick, Danilo Cataldi teed up left-back Antonio Barreca to set up Alessio Romagnoli for a simple finish.

Darragh Lenihan, Ireland captain, rattled his own net after Romagnoli’s shot struck the post and rebounded off his outstretched leg past Rogers.

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