Ireland Beat Italy to Win U21 Euros on Home Soil

Republic of Ireland have won their first significant international honour with a 4-1 win over Italy at Dublin’s Dalymount Park in the UEFA U21 European Championship Final.

The hosts started brightest and came close inside three minutes when centre-back Gerard Flanaghan headed against the far post from a deep corner from Peterborough midfielder Emmet King. Ten minutes later, King’s short free-kick was worked by Dean O’Meara to Gavin French who had his shot pushed on to the post by the Italian ‘keeper.

The Italians had their first effort on target on 25 minutes played when Gennaro Tutino’s surge towards goal ended with a fierce 20-yard effort that Darragh McEntee had be smart to react to and tip it round the post.

On half-hour, the Irish persistence paid off as Gavin French timed his run perfectly to meet O’Meara’s cross from the left and looped his header over Niccolò Rossetti to the delight of the majority of the 10,000-strong crowd in Dublin.

Italy made two changes at the break, including the unusual move of bringing on Samuele Piazzi in goal. He kept out a pair of Irish efforts before the hosts got a second with an hour played. A cross from Dave Murray was headed away but under pressure, half-time sub Flavio Liberti played his backpass to Piazzi short and Emmet King nipped in to score from ten yards.

Glauco D’Elia got in behind the Irish defence on 72 minutes, bringing down a long-ball from Loernzo Gentili before chesting it down, and taking it round McEntee to make it 2-1. Ireland restored the two-goal advantage almost straight away through Finbar Harkin. Anthony Tracey beat Gennaro Tutino to the ball and knocked it back to Ross Devaney who lobbed it into the box for Harkin to control, set himself, and crack a low drive home for Ireland.

A last-ditch tackle in the 82nd minute by Devaney as D’Elia looked certain to score was the last of the Italian chances, and Dave Murray wrapped-up a famous victory with 93:26 on the clock when he tapped home after King flicked on a Eoin Bermingham corner to the far post.

Neal Maupay of France (who beat Romania 3-2 in a Playoff Qualifier for the 2020 Olympics) finished the tournament as top scorer with eight goals in five games.

                 UEFA U21 CHAMPIONSHIPS: FINAL
                      IRELAND 4-1 ITALY
                    French 30     D'Elia 72
                      King 61
                    Harkin 76
                  Murray 90+4
                     Dalymount Park, Dublin

          IRELAND U21                     ITALY U21
 1. D.McEntee        Doncaster |  1. N.Rossetti          Lazio
 2. B.McLaughlin             - |  2. T.Materazzo       Catania
 5. G.Shanaham         Burnley |  5. P.Cantile               -
 4. G.Flanagan          Wolves |  4. L.Vélez        Fiorentina
 3. R.Devaney     Bristol City |  3. M.Cento       Real Madrid
 7. B.Miller      St Patrick's |  7. G.Tutino           Napoli
 6. I.Fallon          Rochdale |  8. C.Davoli            Inter
 8. E.Bermingham     Doncaster |  6. L.Gentili            Roma
11. D.O'Meara         Shamrock | 11. A.Panepinto      Juventus
 9. E.King        Peterborough |  9. G.D'Elia          Palermo
10. G.French      Sligo Rovers | 10. E.Mancinelli     Dortmund
------------------------------ | ------------------------------
16. F.Harkin          Rochdale | 12. S.Piazzi              PSG
17. A.Tracey      Sligo Rovers | 15. S.Selvaggio      Atalanta
19. D.Murray                 - | 16. F.Liberti         Sochaux

U21 Euro Semi-Finals: Italy and Ireland Through

Italy will meet host nation Ireland in the final of the UEFA U21 Euros on Sunday at Dalymount Park in Dublin after today’s semi-finals. Ireland beat England courtesy of Sligo Rovers striker Gavin French’s 9th minute goal, but across the city at the RDS Arena, the other tie between France and Italy had all the action.

Neal Maupay, scorer of five goals in the group stages, put France ahead inside three minutes and that came after a first minute yellow card for Italian captain and right-back Daniel Senesi® when he tried keep a handful of Maupay’s shirt.

Diego De Girolamo nodded in an equaliser for Italy midway through the first-half before a moment of madness five minutes before the break saw Senesi shown a second yellow when he kicked the ball away in frustration at having a goal disallowed for offside.

Despite the disadvantage in numbers, Italy went ahead shortly afterwards when Fabiano Scarabello® was left unmarked at a corner and he powered home a far post header after he slipped round the back to make it 2-1 at the break.

Italy pushed for a third to kill the game off but were twice thwarted by a combination of substitute ‘keeper Martial Torre® and the woodwork as the 18-year old twice tipped shots from distance on to the post and wide.

France caught the Italians on the break in the 73rd minute to tie the game at two-apiece, when Flavio Liberti® was caught in possession and the ball lumped long to Neal Maupay who held off the challenge of Claudio Davoli and slammed a shot into the top corner past Cédrric Gonzalez.

The game went to extra-time, and with ten minutes remaining Italy won it through prolific striker Emiliano Mancinelli of Borussia Dortmund, his 24th goal in 34 U21 caps. Matteo Cento, eventual man of the match, went on a surging run down the left, cut inside and floated a perfect cross in for Mancinelli to glance a header neatly past Torre.

Ireland and Italy haven’t met at U21 level since qualifiers for the 2013 tournament, with Italy winning 3-0 at home, and then 1-0 in Longford.

French striker Neal Maupay, who plays his football for Nice, looks to have sewn the golden boot up having scored seven times in France’s four games. Scarabello of Italy is next best on three, including his goal today.

World Cup: Australia and Germany Progress (B)

A late goal from Dario Vidosic won Group B for Australia, setting-up a second round match against South Korea, while Germany were held by Ireland in Moscow to finish as runners-up in the group. They’ll face Spain in the last sixteen in the first competitive meeting between the two nations since the 2010 semi-finals.

Australia have progressed to the knockout stages of a World Cup for the third time in their history after goals from Graham Peach® and Dario Vidosic ended Morocco’s faint hopes of a place in the second round. Two changes each, with Australia giving a start to goalkeeper Adam Federici.

The Socceroos took the lead in the 8th minute with a move started by a great tackle by Rhys Williams in the Australian half, and the ball was worked forward with pace. Vidosic played it neatly into the path of 21-year old striker Graham Peach® who slotted home his 10th international goal to take the lead.

Vidosic nearly grabbed himself a goal in the 27th minute when he 30-yard free-kick cracked against the angle of post and bar with Moroccan ‘keeper Zakaria Saïdi well beaten.

Morocco found themselves level right before half-time with a goal against the run of play. Marouane Chamakh started and finished the move when won the ball in the centre circle and within seconds got on the end of a ball from Younès Belhanda to slot into the bottom corner for his and Morocco’s third goal of the tournament.

The winner came with a little over quarter of an hour to play in route one fashion. A goal kick was worked to the flank for Peach to take it down the right and bend a cross in from the goal-line. Dario Vidosic got there ahead of Saïdi and volleyed Australia into the last sixteen as group winners.

Australia will play South Korea in Makhachkala on Saturday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP B (3)
                    AUSTRALIA 2-1 MOROCCO
                      Peach 8     Chamakh 42
                   Vidosic 73

Germany went into their final game top of the group on goal difference from Australia, so just needed to match or better their result in order to avoid Spain in the second round. They made just the one change, with Lewis Holtby coming in for the injured Mesut Özil. Three changes for Ireland.

Germany were fully in control of the first-half but weren’t finding a way past Ryan Meara in the Irish goal, with the Le Mans man equal to everything fired at home once the German attack had breached the tight central defence of Ciaran Clark and captain Alex Pearce.

The opening goal finally came two minutes before the break, when Mario Götze – cautioned earlier, earning him a suspension – played a low ball in from the right wing for Mario Gómez in the box. He had time to turn, take a touch to tee himself up, then lash a shot into the top corner from fifteen yards.

Four minutes after the interval, Germany thought they’d doubled the lead. Schmelzer and Schürrle combined down the left, and the Dortmund man’s cross was met by Gómez whose towering header thundered past Meara off the underside of the bar. The flag went up late on the far side, and in a rant at the fourth official, Jürgen Klopp was dismissed to the stands by the Italian officials.

Ireland snatched an equaliser with eight minutes remaining when Chris McCann evaded Rode’s challenge and played a through-ball to Alan Judge. His shot was blocked by Schmelzer but half-time sub Colin Pepper arrived in the box perfectly in time to drill the loose ball past a stricken Manuel Neuer.

That’s how it finished with Götze fluffing a late chance, and Germany finished runners-up in Group B. Their second round match will be against Spain in St Petersburg on Saturday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP B (3)
                  REP.IRELAND 1-1 GERMANY
                    Pepper 82     Gómez 43
                       Murray     Götze

World Cup Group B: Matchday Two Review

Australia and Germany both have one foot in the last sixteen after they split the points in a 1-1 draw in Nizhniy Novgorod today, leaving them both on four points. Morocco and Ireland drew in Moscow for their first point each, meaning either needs a win and a four-goal swing next week.

Two changes for Morocco following their 1-4 defeat by Germany, with the most notable being a change in goal as 23-year old Zakaria Saïdi® replaced Ismaïl Kouha. Aït Fana also came in for Boussoufa upfront. Just one change for Ireland with Aidan White a straight swap for Stephen Ward at left-back.

Morocco took the lead after ten minutes on a counter attack when Kantari cleared a Shane long ball into the box. El Kaoutari attacked with pace on the break and found El Adoua. One touch to Belhanda who slotted through to Marouane Chamakh who took it first time on his left to drill low past Meara and in-off the far post.

Ireland’s equaliser came midway through the second-half when Shane Long brought down Murray’s cross into the box, rounded Saïdi and tucked home from close range. A draw was a fair result, but does neither side many favours ahead of their final fixtures on Tuesday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP B (2)
                      MOROCCO 1-1 REP.IRELAND
                   Chamakh 11     Long 65
                      Carcela     Cox
                      Chamakh     Pearce

Germany dominated against a resilient Australian side with 63% possession and over double the amount of shots, but had their early penalty were pegged back by a Rhys Williams goal to share the points. If either side avoids defeat next week, a place in the last sixteen awaits.

Australia survived a booking for Rhys Williams after just 30 seconds when he had a handful of Sebastian Rode’s shirt much to the disapproval of English referee Clattenburg. Just before the 20 minute mark, Clattenburg upset the Socceroos again when he pointed to the spot.

Rhys Williams was involved again as he tripped Rode in the box as the Frankfurt midfielder ran onto Götze’s through-ball. Williams somehow escaped a second yellow, but André Schürrle slammed the penalty into the top corner for his 20th international goal to give Germany the lead.

Right before the hour, Australia scored the goal to earn themselves a point, and it was Rhys Williams involved again. Luca Mavromatis® did all the leg work, bringing the ball forward 40 yards with little resistance before firing a shot at Manuel Neuer. The Bayern Munich ‘keeper got his hands to it but it was parried to Williams who had time to steady himself before slotting home.

Germany play Ireland on Tuesday in Moscow. Australia will face Morocco in Rostov.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP B (2)
                    AUSTRALIA 1-1 GERMANY
             Rhys Williams 59     Schürrle pen 19
                Rhys Williams
                Ryan Williams

World Cup, Day Two: Ireland 1-4 Australia (B)

Australia’s youthful side got off to a winning start against Ireland in Kazan today, with a trio of set-pieces exposing the weaknesses in an Irish defence. With the average age of outfield players just over 23, it was in fact the Socceroos’ captain and oldest player Erik Paartalu that put them in front.

After the initial early exchanges, midfielder Erik Paartalu rose highest to meet a Matt Harper corner and head home from around the penalty spot in the 18th minute.

Ireland pushed forwards in search of an equaliser, but the Australian back three were well-protected with Harper and Williams dropping deep to cover. Anthony Pilkington came within inches of a leveller when his long cross into the box caught out Langerak in the Australian goal, but bounced off the top of the bar and over.

A second Australian corner provided their second goal. Harper lofted it towards the near post where Vito Ryan® flicked the ball across the face of goal where Matthew Mackie® had a simple finish at the far post to double the lead and score his first Australian goal.

Three minutes before the break, Ireland got themselves back in the game. A goal kick was won in the middle of the park by Pilkington who exchanged passes with Gavin McCann before releasing Shane Long on the of the box. Long beat his man, hit the goal line and clipped the ball to the far post where it was met on the volley by Sean Murray.

Less than five minutes after the interval, another Australian corner caught the Irish out. Vidosic’s corner was headed away at the near post by Gibson, but it only dropped as far as half-time sub Luca Mavromatis® who cracked a 25-yard volley back towards goal, seeing it clip the inside of the post and fly past Meara for 3-1.

Three became four shortly after the hour-mark as an Irish offside trap failed miserably, with everyone but Ward stepping-up. Mavromatis had four options to pick-out, and his through-ball found Vito Ryan® who had time to steady himself before drilling home.

That’s how it stayed and the Irish now have to lick their wounds ahead of their match against Morocco. Meanwhile, Australia play Germany with both games on Thursday.

                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP B
                  REP.IRELAND 1-4 AUSTRALIA
                    Murray 43     Paartalu 18
                                  Mackie 33
                                  Mavromatis 50
                                  Ryan 63

                        White     Parhas