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Unlucky Ireland U21s suffer narrow defeat to Italy after spirited display

Noel King’s side went down 1-0 in their Euro qualifier in Vicenza.

Ireland Italy U21s Ireland's starting XI stand for the national anthem. Source: Twitter/FAIreland

Updated 18.00

Italy 1-0 Ireland

IRELAND’S U21s DROPPED their first points of current Uefa Championship qualifying campaign at Vicenza’s Stadio Romeo Menti today.

A 66th-minute goal from substitute Vittorio Parigini was enough to earn a 1-0 win for the Italians, who are now level at the top of Group 2 with Ireland and Serbia.

With several players unavailable through injury, manager Noel King stuck with the same starting XI that picked up a comfortable 3-0 win over Lithuania on Friday and watched his side begin the game confidently.

Winger Sean Kavanagh tested Alessio Cragno with a strike on 11 minutes, but his effort wouldn’t have counted as the flag went up to rule him offside.

The Fulham youngster then turned creator. His strong run set up Jack Byrne and the Italian goalkeeper expertly tipped the snapshot over the bar.

Just before the half-time whistle, Alan Browne got away down the left flank and skipped by a couple of challenges but his attempted low cross was cut out at the front post.

The early stages of the second half were littered with niggly fouls and little in the way of clear-cut chances.

Federico Bernardeschi was guilty of wasting a rare opportunity just before the hour mark — shooting well wide from 20 yards after a quick counter-attack.

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Italian manager Luis di Biagio opted for his first change on 61 minutes, bringing on Vittorio Parigini for Alberto Cerri, and the Perugia midfielder made an instant impact.

Taking the ball down on his chest after getting in between three Irish defenders, the substitute side-footed past stranded goalkeeper Daniel Rodgers.

Italy goal Ireland U21s

The home side played the final 20 minutes with ten men as Bernardeschi picked up a second yellow card for blatantly puling back Josh Cullen.

Ireland went in search of an equaliser as the clocked ticked down and Kavanagh should really have hit the target from O’Dowda’s cut-back, while O’Dowda’s curling strike whistled just past the post.

King made a double change with five minutes remaining as Sean Maguire and Dylan Connolly replaced Kavanagh and Byrne, but they were unable to rescue a point despite the late pressure.

Ireland are away to Lithuania next on 13 November.

ITALY: Cragno, Conti, Rugani, Romangnoli, Murru, Bernardeschi, Mandragora, Catali, Boateng (Calabria 75’), Monachello (Garritano 89′), Cerri (Parigini 61’).

IRELAND: Rogers, Long, Rea, Lenihan, Connors, O’Dowda, Browne, Cullen, Byrne (Connolly 85′), Kavanagh (Maguire 85′), Wilkinson.

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