Ireland Under-17s face a mammoth task if they are to qualify for the knockout stages of the European Championships in Bulgaria following a 2-0 defeat against Italy today.
Following their opening 0-0 draw against Holland, Tom Mohan's men will now have to beat England on Tuesday and hope that other results go their way if they are to progress to the latter stages of the competition.
Simone Lo Faso broke the deadlock after just nine minutes when Patrick Cutrone flicked a pass his way following a cross by Gianluca Scamacca and Lo Faso jinked past the Irish defence to fire high into the roof of the net.
Ireland had much of the ball but struggled to break down a welll-organised Italian defence.
Anthony Scully was introduced for Ireland at half-time as he came on for Trevor Clarke and the young West Ham man came close to an equaliser just after the restart but he skewed his left-footed shot wide of the Italian goal from tight angle.
Ireland continued to press but were hit with a hammer blow on 52 minutes when substitute Simone Mazzocchi scored with a low shot from 22 yards that trickled into the bottom corner of the Irish net.
England play the Netherlands tonight while Ireland's final game is against the Three Lions on Tuesday.
IRELAND: Caoimhin Kelleher, Corey O’Keeffe, Jonathan Lunney, Conor Masterson, Darragh Leahy, Marcus Agyel-Tabi, Zachary Elbouzedi (Joshua Barrett 49), Conor Levingston, Connor Ronan, Trevor Clarke (Anthony Scully HT), Jamie Aherne (Luke Wade-Slater 72).
ITALY: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Giusseppe Scarlera, Federico Giraudo, Aleesandro Mattioli, Andres Llamas, Filippo Melegoni, Manuel Locatelli, Mattia El Hilali, Simone Lo Faso (Edoardo Degl’Innocenti 70), Patrick Cutrone, Gianluca Scamacca (Simone Mazzocchi 54).
Substitute Jamie Aherne came within inches of providing Ireland with a famous win as they drew 0-0 in the opening game of the European under-17 Championships at Sozopol Stadium in Bulgaria.