Noel King’s Irish Under 21 side rounded off their 2013 European Championship qualification campaign with an excellent 4-2 victory over Italy at the Stadio Giuseppe Capozza in Casarano.
Following Thursday’s 2-1 defeat in Hungary, Irish hopes of qualifying for the finals had ended but it was still good to finish the campaign on a high.
The Boys in Green were in fact the only side not to be beaten twice by the Italians in the qualifiers, having drawn with the Azzurrini in Dublin being the only other points that the Italians dropped.
The Irish ended the game with nine men as Anthony Forde and Derrick Williams were red carded at the end of each half and Italy missed a penalty with the scores level at 1-1 eight minutes before half-time of what was a most eventful game.
The highlight of the game though was an incredible 35 yard strike from Arsenal’s Conor Henderson (see clip below) which put the Irish 3-1 ahead just before the hour mark.
A brace from Aaron Doran either side of Henderson’s goal, amazingly had the Irish 4-1 ahead (with Seán Murray having given the visitor’s the lead midway through the first half) and Stephan El Sharaay’s last minute goal was no more than a consolation for the home side.
The result sees Noel King’s side finish third in the Group on 13 points, two behind second placed Turkey and six points adrift of the table topping Italians who qualify for the Under 21 European Championship play-offs.
Italy Under-21: Perin; Faraoni, Crescenzi, Massi, Rossi; Caldirola (C), Sada, Marrone, Immobile; El Sharaay, Gabbiadini.
Republic of Ireland Under-21: McCarey; Doherty, White, Egan (C), Williams; Henderson, Forde, Carruthers, Doran; Murray, O’Kane.