Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

the game at a glance

Man of the match

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)

The Juventus player offered the only real measure of controlled football in this game and his class in midfield was evident on so many more occasions than any other.

Magic moment

In a game devoid of consistent quality, Mario Balotelli's stunning volleyed finish to secure the points for Italy represented the game's true moment of class.

Turning point

Italy's opening goal, conceded from yet another set-piece, punctuated any early hopes that Ireland's bright start could be translated at any point into a meaningful quest for a positive result with which to end these championships.

Talking point

The Republic of Ireland are now statistically one of the worst four sides to have taken place in the European Championships along with Yugoslavia (1984), Denmark (2000) and Bulgaria (2004) with no points and a --8 goal difference.

Crowd watch

The Irish fans -- once more numbering about two-thirds of the 38,794 crowd -- were given an official send off by grateful Poznan locals earlier in the afternoon and they were sure to drown their sorrows after this one in the old town as this old team with old ideas bowed out of the European Championships 2012. "We can sing what we want, Keano," the sang defiantly.

Ref watch

A nightmare name for commentators afflicted by tendencies to Spoonerism, Turkish whistler Cuneyt Cakir is known as a no-nonsense operator, having sent off Chelsea defender John Terry in this season's Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

Match statistics

Yellow cards: Italy 1 (Federico Balzaretti 28, Daniele De Rossi 71, Gianluigi Buffon 72) Ireland 4 (Keith Andrews 36 & 88, John O'Shea 39, Sean St Ledger 84).

Red cards: Italy 0 Ireland 1 (Keith Andrews 88).

Shots on target: Italy 7 Ireland 2. Corners: Italy 10 Ireland 5.

What's next?

Ireland must concentrate on their World Cup qualifying clash, beginning next autumn away to Kazakhstan, while Italy, second in Group C, await the winners of Group D in the quarter-finals.

david kelly

Irish Independent

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