Friday 30 September 2016

Italy strike late against Sweden to give Ireland's qualification hopes a big boost

Italy 1 Sweden 0

Published 17/06/2016 | 16:03

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - JUNE 17: Eder of Italy celebrates after he scores his sides first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Sweden at Stadium Municipal on June 17, 2016 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
TOULOUSE, FRANCE - JUNE 17: Eder of Italy celebrates after he scores his sides first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Sweden at Stadium Municipal on June 17, 2016 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Ireland weren't playing this afternoon but fans of the Boys in Green would have celebrated Italy's winner against Sweden this afternoon almost as passionately as they did when Wes Hoolahan hit the net last Monday.

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Striker Eder scored in the dying moments to give Antonio Conte's men their second win of Group E, booking Italy's place in the last 16 in the process. The result means that the Azzurri lead the group at the moment with six points, followed by Sweden and Ireland on one and Belgium on zero.

Ireland play Belgium tomorrow, and will be hopeful of a result, but with the knowledge that Italy will be assured of qualification when they meet on Wednesday in Lille, which may see Conte rest a number of his regulars.

Today's clash in Toulouse was a drab affair for the most part, with few clear chances created by either side. In fact, with each passing minute, Ireland's failure to beat Sweden looked like an even greater missed opportunity.

However, just when it looked like the teams would share the points - which wouldn't have been ideal from an Irish perspective - Eder struck to snatch a win for Italy, boosting Ireland's Euro 2016 hopes in the process.

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