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Nine-man Ireland overcome Italy

Italy 2-4 Republic of Ireland
Noel King's side showed admirable resolve as they shrugged off two red cards to triumph against the Group 7 winners, who missed a penalty.

Conor Henderson is mobbed after scoring Ireland's third goal
Conor Henderson is mobbed after scoring Ireland's third goal ©Getty Images

A spirited nine-man Republic of Ireland side ended UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying in style with a 4-2 win against Italy.

While the Azzurri had first place in Group 7 already sewn up, Ireland had only pride to play for. They left Casarano with that very much intact despite the dismissals of Derrick Williams and Anthony Forde. Sean Murray put the visitors in front and although Luca Caldirola was quick to level, two goals from Aaron Doran either side of Conor Henderson's effort proved enough despite Forde's late red card and Stephan El Shaarawy's even later consolation.

It had all started in delightful fashion, Murray lifting the ball over Mattia Perin having been sent through by Henderson. Caldirola's 35th-minute header looked to have halted the momentum of Noel King's side, who then appeared to be firmly on the rack when Williams was given his marching orders for a foul inside the penalty area. Ciro Immobile's spot kick, however, was saved by Aaron McCarey.

It proved to be a turning point, with Doran's cool finishing and Henderson's stunning long-range strike putting Ireland 4-1 up with 14 minutes left. Forde then followed Williams into the dressing room six minutes from time before El Shaarawy's effort.