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EURO2016: Republic of Ireland produce famous win over Italy

Luck was indeed with the Irish tonight as the Republic of Ireland scored a late goal to defeat Italy 1-0 in Lille.

Martin O'Neill's Ireland creating their own luck as they secured third spot in Group E and a spot in the knockout stage.

Having already been crowned Group E winners, Italy could take this one easy while for Ireland it was all on the line with nothing less than a win their only hope of progressing to the next round.

It was an open first ten minutes as Ireland's Jeff Hendrick had his shot from the top of the box curl agonisingly wide of the left post just shy of ten minutes.

With 21 minutes played, Ireland would have gone ahead if not for some excellent goal keeping from Salvatore Sirigu. Daryl Murphy heading a Robbie Brady cross that would have crept under crossbar if not for a fine tap over from Sirigu.

Ireland were as you'd expect on the front foot but this didn't stop Italy from countering with real intent, if with no real effect, throughout the first half. Ciro Immobile going closest on 42 minutes when his low shot from range was just wide of the left post.

With minutes remaining in the first half, Ireland were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty as James McClean went down in the box under a heavy challenge from Federico Bernardeschi.

It was 45 minutes of genuine effort from the Irish but they couldn't quite crack a stubborn Italian defence as the first half ended goalless.

Desperate for a much-needed goal, Ireland emerged from the break with the same willingness to get forward but same lack of quality in the final third. Two poorly taken free-kicks to start the second-half not helping their cause.

In a quieter second 45 minutes, Italy were doing well to restrict Ireland as their opponents desperately searched for a goal.

With 78 minutes played it was the Azzurri who almost broke the deadlock as Lorenzo Insigne curled a shot on to the post. Ireland surviving as they were allowed to still search for a goal in hopes of progressing.

As the final whistle loomed large, Ireland found their way through when Brady nodded home a fine cross from Norwich City teammate Wes Hoolahan.

Ireland finishing the final minutes well to secure the narrow win and their first appearance in the Euro knockout stages where they will take on hits France in Lyon on June 26.

EURO2016 - Group E

Italy: 0
Republic of Ireland: 1 (Robbie Brady 85')
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille

Joshua Thomas
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Joshua Thomas

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