Robbie Brady headed home a late winner as Republic of Ireland booked their place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 with a famous 1-0 victory over Italy in Lille.
Martin O’Neill‘s men needed the three points to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage and produced a tireless, vibrant performance to edge a much-changed Azzurri who had already qualified as Group E winners.
The Irish bossed the first period and went close through Jeff Hendrick and Daryl Murphy. They also had a big penalty appeals turned down when Federico Bernarderschi appeared to catch James McClean as the winger looked set to shoot.
It seemed that would be the major talking point as the game wore on with Ireland struggling to make a breakthrough. Italy improved and substituteLorenzo Insigne saw a shot crash back off the post late in the second half before Wes Hoolahan fired a gilt-edged opportunity straight at Salvatore Siriguon 84 minutes.
The Norwich winger’s miss could easily have seen him cast as villain but he responded with a sublime cross 60 seconds later for club-mate Brady to send Ireland’s fans into hysteria.
The result sees the Republic win a Euros match for the first time in 28 years and sees them qualify as one of the best third-placed sides. They will now meet hosts France in a mouth-watering last-16 clash on Sunday afternoon.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND