Italy 2 Republic of Ireland 0
The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals now hang by a thread after they were undone by clinical Italian finishing yesterday.
After drawing 0-0 with the Netherlands in their opening match, Tom Mohan’s side now have to beat England in Stara Zagora on Wednesday and hope the the result of the Italy-Netherlands game goes their way in order to qualify from Group D.
“We’ll give it a big effort. I can’t fault the effort and commitment of the players,” said Mohan after the game at the Beroe Stadium. “Some of them could barely stand at the end.
“The spirit is there and we’ve got to build our preparation around that spirit and determination. There will be boys chomping at the bit to play [against England].”
Mohan made two changes from the encouraging 0-0 draw with the Netherlands. Corey O’Keeffe, who was suspended for that game, replaced
at right back, while up front
came in for
A purposeful start from Ireland saw Connor Ronan slalom past two defenders and force Gianluigi Donnarumma into a save. An encouraging start scarcely mattered, though, as Italy took the lead in their first meaningful attack on 10 minutes.
A well-worked passage down the right saw Gianluca Scamacca find Patrick Cutrone whose back-heel picked out Simone Lo Faso. The striker wrong-footed two Irish defenders before scoring past Caoimhin Kelleher with a crisp right-foot drive.
Ireland reacted positively. Trevor Clarke headed over the bar, while midfielder Conor Levingston also shot over the bar from distance as Ireland continued to work hard to get back into the game.
Mohan made a change at the break bringing in Anthony Scully for Trevor Clarke in a straight swap on the left wing. And Scully was involved as Ireland carved the first chance of the second half two minutes in.
Scuffed the shot
worked the ball through for Jamie Aherne, who could only scuff his shot across the goal.
Another chance arrived on 52 minutes but substitute Barrett’s touch just let him down as he looked in on goal from Ronan’s cross. All Ireland’s good work was undone as Italy scored again on 56 minutes.
A miscued clearance from O'Keeffe was latched onto by Lo Faso, who teed up substitute Simone Mazzocchi, whose shot found the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
“We were just done by two errors. They were clinical,” said Mohan. “After the first 15 minutes we got a grip on the game and were the dominant team. We got into great positions out wide to get balls into the box.
“But when they went in players just didn’t pick up the right positions in the box. It was just a lack of conviction in the final third of the pitch.
“The errors we made were punished. You have to give Italy credit for that. their front payers were clinical with their finishing. That was the difference between the sides. We just have to pick ourselves up and get ready for Wednesday.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Kelleher (Ringmahon Rangers); O'Keeffe (Birmingham), Masterson (Liverpool), Leahy (Coventry), Lunney (Preston NE); Agyei-Tabi (Arsenal), Levingston (Wolves); Ronan (Wolves); Elbouzedi (West Brom), Aherne (Lucan United), Clarke (St Kevin's). Subs: Scully (West Ham) for Clarke (half-time), Barrett (Reading) for Elbouzedi (49 mins), Wade-Slater (St Kevin's) for Aherne (71 mins).