The game at a glance
Published 08/06/2011 | 05:00
Man of the match
Darren O'Dea (Ireland)
Having only been passed fit on the day, the Celtic defender gave a brave display at the heart of a back four that came under a lot of pressure but dealt with everything thrown at them. Went off with seven minutes to go, but his performances over the past week have staked a strong claim for a regular starting berth.
This friendly came in for plenty of criticism beforehand, but it turned out to be a very useful exercise. Ireland's commitment to the tackle showed they were taking it more seriously than an end-of-season jolly and the record of Giovanni Trapattoni's charges in the last three weeks is now played four, won four, scored 10 and conceded none. Not bad work.
Belgian official Serge Gumienny came in for some criticism from the Irish players for siding with the sizeable Italian majority in the crowd early on, but his decision to award Shane Long a 36th-minute free led to Keith Andrews' goal.
The selection of Liege as venue proved inspired as the local Italians in the 21,516 crowd made plenty of noise. The 500 Irish fans made their presence felt and it was a good night for four of them who were flown home for free on the official team flight. One of them, Davy Keogh, was being rewarded for his long-time support for the team -- and perhaps his recent vocal support for John Delaney.
And finally. . .
This victory was only Ireland's second over the Azzurri in 11 attempts. The goals from Andrews and Simon Cox (right) won't live as long in the memory as Ray Houghton's strike in Giants Stadium in 1994, but they were winning strikes against the Italians.
Yellow cards: Ireland (Hunt 22, Andrews 30); Italy 0
Red cards: Ireland 0; Italy 0
Shots on target: Ireland 2; Italy 2
Shots off target: Ireland 2; Italy 9
Corners: Ireland 0; Italy 3
Possession: Ireland 40pc; Italy 60pc
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