5 things we learned from the Republic of Ireland's win over Italy
Published 23/06/2016 | 14:01
Robbie Brady ensured the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 adventure extended beyond the group stage when he headed them to a famous victory over Italy in Lille.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five things we learned at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Brady's 85th-minute winner against Italy was by no means the first late contribution to the campaign, and manager Martin O'Neill insisted it could be no coincidence after Aiden McGeady in Georgia, John O'Shea in Germany and Shane Long against Poland all scored priceless last-gasp goals during qualification. That is testament to Ireland's commitment, desire and refusal to accept their fate, and that can only serve them well as they prepare for their last 16 showdown with France.
Assistant manager Roy Keane insisted in the run-up to the Italy game that victory on a night when nothing else would do was a far from impossible task, and his confidence proved well-founded. The Republic proved that they can produce under extreme pressure, and that is something they will have to do once again in Lyon on Sunday if they are to upset the hosts and make their way into the quarter-finals.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Shay Given, John O'Shea and Robbie Keane have a combined total of 389 caps for Ireland, but the 40-year-old keeper and his 35-year-old team-mates were not involved in Lille on Wednesday night. They have been stalwarts for their country for years, but with the likes of Brady, Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Jeff Hendrick fast-emerging, a new generation has been blooded at the highest level and not found wanting.
HEND OF GOD
Derby midfielder Hendrick arrived in France with a blossoming reputation and his performances in the 1-1 draw with Sweden and the victory over Italy demonstrated he has both the ability and temperament to make it on the big stage. Former boss Giovanni Trapattoni's assistant Marco Tardelli has revealed he has gone as far as recommending the 24-year-old to several Italian clubs, while Robbie Keane has admitted he advised Tottenham to sign him four years ago.
Italy arrived in Lille having already assured themselves of top spot in Group E and with manager Antonio Conte keen to have a look at some of his squad players as he rested big names. But of the eight changes he made, few took their chance with only front two Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile of the starters threatening to influence the game.