Robbie Brady’s late header gifted Republic of Ireland 1-0 victory over Italy to guarantee the place in the last 16 of EURO 2016 at Stade Pierre Mauroy here on Wednesday.
The decisive goal came in the 85th minute when Robbie Brady made a superb run into the box and arrived to meet substitute Wes Hoolahan’s right-wing cross with a firm header past Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
Republic of Ireland were positive in the whole match and created a lot of chances.
Jeff Hendrick sent long shots for several times just wide. Darryl Murphy met Robbie Brady’s left-wing corner with a firm header which Sirigu tipped over the bar on 21 minutes.
“We’ve shown some fantastic results to get here. This has been a two-year processes. It was going to be hard against Italy,” said Republic of Ireland goalscorer Brady. “We know some of the players in the Premier League; we know quite a bit about them but we’ll need to do our work.”
Meanwhile, Italy lost some good opportunities to score.
In the 43th minute, forward Ciro Immobile made room for a shot on the edge of the penalty area but his decent strike missed the target.
Ten minutes later, striker Simone Zaza shot a strong volley but the ball flashed over the bar.
Substitute Lorenzo Insigne almost scored but saw the ball rebound off the post on the 77th minute.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose tonight. I think we saw a side that has strengths, weaknesses but one that keeps scrapping towards the end,” said Italy head coach Antonio Conte. “We played against a side that played the game of their lives. It was an intense match and I played myself and I know what it’s like to play in games like this.”
Italy qualified as group winners and will face Spain on Monday at the Stade de France.