Italy 2 Ireland 0: Italy taught the Republic of Ireland a harsh lesson on how to finish at the Beroe Stadium yesterday to leave Irish hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of these Uefa Under-17 Championships in Bulgaria hanging in the balance.
Ireland bring just one point — garnered from their opening match with Holland — into the final Group D game against England back here in Stara Zagora on Wednesday.
Tom Mohan’s side must win midweek and hope on a favourable outcome from the Holland versus Italy game in Bourgas if they are to make the last eight.
Given Hol-Eng draw and UEFA convoluted system, a 2-0 win fur Ireland over England would in fact put us through regardless of other result.
‘It’s good to be going into the last game with it all to play for. We’re still in the shake up. We know what we have to do. If we get a 2-0 win that will put us through regardless of the result in the other game.’ “We’ll give it a big effort,” said a crestfallen Mohan after goals early in each half undid his side’s feisty display. “I can’t fault the effort and commitment of the players. 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.”
A positive start for Ireland counted for nothing as Italy took the lead on 10 minutes.
Fine build up play from Gianluca Scamacca and Patrick Cutrone set up Simone Lo Faso who beat Caoimhin Kelleher with a rising right foot shot from inside the area.
Ireland worked hard to get back into the tie without seriously threatening the Italy goal before half-time.
They started the second half well with Jamie Aherne and substitute Josh Barrett having chances but Italy punished sloppy defending to score a second on 56 minutes. A miscued clearance from Corey O’Keeffe was latched on by Lo Faso who teed up Simone Mazzocchi for a powerful finish.
“We were just undone 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 the 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. Give Italy credit for that, their front players were clinical. That was the difference.”
Kelleher (Ringmahon Rangers); O’Keeffe (Birmingham), Masterson (Liverpool), Leahy (Coventry), Lunney (Preston); Agyei-Tabi (Arsenal), Livingston (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.).
Donnarumma; Scalera, Mattioli, Llamas, Giraudo; Melegoni, El Hilail, Locatelli, Lo Faso (Degl‘Innocenti, 70); Cutrone (Mataresse, 80+1), Scamacca (Mazzocchi, 53).
Roi Reinshreiber (Israel).
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