King: Italy win ‘amazing’
IRISH Under-21 manager Noel King has hailed Ireland’s 4-2 victory over Italy on Italian soil as one of our greatest ever football results.
It also produced one of the greatest ever goals scored by an Irish international side in the form of Conor Henderson’s 40-yard screamer.
It is the first time the Italian’s have been beaten at home in a competitive fixture at this level in 10 years.
King’s men started the game without star player Robbie Brady, who is with the senior setup, finished the game with nine men, endured two floodlight failures but produced an incredible performance.
With a whole host of new players drafted in as Ireland looked towards our next qualifying campaign little was expected but King’s charges had other ideas.
Defeat by Hungary on Thursday had ended hopes of nudging into a play-off place in Group Seven but Noel King’s men finished with a flourish despite ending the game with nine men after two red cards.
Sean Murray put Ireland in front in the 23rd minute but Luca Caldirola equalised on 35 for the Italians, who were already guaranteed qualification as group winners.
Another Italian victory seemed certain when Derrick Williams was sent off in the 37th minute for a professional foul, but Aaron McCarey saved the resulting penalty and instead it was the visitors who took control.
Two goals in as many minutes just before the hour from Inverness midfielder Aaron Doran and Conor Henderson gave the Irish a 3-1 lead and they made it four eight minutes from time when Doran added his second.
Henderson’s goal in particular will live long in the memory. A devastating drive from just outside the centre-circle which left the hapless Italian goalie with no chance.
Anthony Forde was the second Irish player to see red for two bookable offences late on and Stephan El Shaarawy grabbed a consolation goal in injury time for the stunned Italians.
King was elated afterwards: “It has to be one of the best Irish results ever. When you take all the circumstances into play, with nine men in Italy, so much went against us. The lights went out but the spirits never did.
“We drew with Italy in the Showgrounds. We’ve been competitive in every game and unfortunately lost three games we could have won. The quality of the goals was amazing. The four goals would be goal of the season contenders.”