Gutsy Ireland one down to 10-man Italy

Half time: Italy 1 Republic of Ireland 0

Vincenzo Iaquinta fired 10-man Italy into a half-time lead over the Republic of Ireland as the world champions survived Giampaolo Pazzini’s controversial dismissal.

The Juventus striker converted Fabio Grosso’s 11-minute cross after Pazzini had been sent off for catching John O’Shea with his arm only three minutes into his first senior start for his country.

Simone Pepe later fired into the side-netting as Ireland struggled to make an impression despite their numerical advantage, although Gianluigi Buffon had to tip over a 40th-minute half-volley from Stephen Hunt.

Keane mustered Ireland’s first shot on goal three minutes later when he took aim from 25 yards but, although he caught the ball well, keeper Gianluigi Buffon was able to watch it sail over the bar in comfort.

The 10 men were coping with little difficulty as the Republic enjoyed plenty of possession but little penetration.

However, McShane got into an advanced position down the right with 28 minutes gone to deliver a low cross, which Chiellini hacked away at the near post.

Folan found himself in space inside his own half three minutes later and set off on a determined run that took him past Grosso and then midfielder Pepe, but the full-back recovered to dispossess him before he could do any damage.

Ireland were finally building up a head of steam and Keith Andrews passed up a glorious opportunity seconds later when he scuffed a left-foot shot harmlessly wide after being set up by Keane.

But they might have fallen further behind when keeper Shay Given failed to get a meaningful touch to another Grosso cross and Pepe fired into the side-netting from beyond the far post.

Buffon was called upon for the first time five minutes before the break when Hunt controlled the ball on his chest before sending in a half-volleyed effort that the keeper turned over the bar.

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