U21 | Ireland fall to defeat away to Italy
Clinical finishing from the home team proved to be the difference as Riccardo Sottil and Patrick Cutrone scored one each to secure the three points.
In what was Jim Crawford’s first game in charge, Ireland started well and saw midfielder Jack Taylor volley wide inside the opening 10 minutes.
However, it was the home team who controlled the tempo for the most part in spite of the positive approach adopted by Crawford’s side, who were set up to play on the front foot.
Ireland deserved to make it to the break on level terms but Sottil spoiled that when he made amends for an earlier miss by firing in a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Upon returning for the second period, Ireland continued to link play with some nice passing and worked hard to match their opponents in every area. But they could not create too many clear-cut chances on goal.
On 62 minutes, Sottil got in behind on Ireland’s left side and produced a low cross for Cutrone to direct the ball past Bazunu after he got in front of Nathan Collins.
Ireland almost got one back straight away when Zach Elbouzedi found space on the edge of the opponents’ penalty area and unloaded a shot at goal, but goalkeeper Michele Cerofolini saved well.
Crawford looked to freshen things up by introducing three players in quick succession and one of those, Danny Mandriou, had a shot blocked as they looked to mount some pressure.
Italy hung on to win the game and they move into top spot in Group 1 on goal difference as they are now on 16 points alongside Ireland.
Next up home for Ireland is a home game against Iceland on November 12 before finishing the group away to Luxembourg five days later.
Italy: Cerofolini; Vogliacco, Buongiorno, Pirola; Birindelli, Ricci (Nicolussi 88), Tonali, Muratore (Portanova 46), Frabotta; Cutrone, Sottil (Raspadori 83).
Republic of Ireland: Bazunu; L O’Connor, Collins, Masterson, Leahy; Taylor (Mandriou 75), Coventry; Smallbone, Ronan (Grant 75), Elbouzedi; Obafemi (Afolabi 74).
Referee: Krzystof Jakubik (Poland).