A DOUBLE FROM Aaron Doran plus goals from Sean Murray and Conor Henderson ensured Ireland’s U21s went out of their European championships qualifying campaign on a high against Italy this evening.
Having been beaten 2-1 by Hungary last week, Noel King’s side were already out of the reckoning for a place at next year’s finals when they travelled to Casarano for a meeting with the Azzurri, who topped Group 8.
The visitors led at the break thanks to Watford striker Sean Murray but it was Henderson’s strike which lit up the game on 58 minutes. The Arsenal midfielder picked up the ball just inside the opposition’s half before advancing forward and letting fly with a stunning strike from 35 yards.
Incredibly, Ireland had two players – Derrick Williams and Anthony Forde – sent off and faults with the floodlights brought the game to a halt on two occasions. AC Milan winger Stephen ElShaarawy scored a late consolation for the home side in injury time but Ireland recorded an excellent win.
“It was a fantastic result – a great victory, some incredible goals which puts us in third place so it’s a nice finish,” Noel King told Newstalk’s Off The Ball tonight.
“We had six debutants, who put in a superb performances, the lights went off twice and it was bedlam. I’m in football a long time and if this isn’t the best away win at international football I’d be amazed.
“We played like Europeans tonight. We mighn’t get much sleep but we’ll enjoy it.”
Italy: Perin, Faraoni, Cresenzi, Masi, Rossi, Caldirola (c), Sala (Viviani ’46), Marrone (Laribi ’69), Immobile (De Luca ’57), El Shaarawy, Gabbiadini.
Ireland: McCarey, Doherty, White (c), Egan, Williams, Henderson, Forde, Carruthers, Doran, Murray, O’Kane.
Watch Henderson’s goal below:
YouTube credit: BestManagerFootball