Italy scored four times in the last seven minutes to defeat the Republic of Ireland 4-1 in Villacidro and seize the initiative in UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying Group 2.
The hosts had to come from behind after Ireland opened the scoring on 13 minutes when Katie Taylor shot from outside the penalty area. The goal forced Italy into action but the visitors' defence held firm until the closing stages.
Twelve minutes into the second half Taylor was sent off and Italy's pressure finally told when Silvia Fuselli levelled on 83 minutes. Two minutes later Melania Gabbiadini added the second for the Azzurre, making no mistake from close range after Patrizia Panico's effort had hit the bar. Just a minute later Panico grabbed the third, converting a right-wing cross from Gabbiadini, while Pamela Conti rounded off the scoring with a free-kick in added time.
"We suffered but the victory was fully deserved," said Italy coach Pietro Ghedin. "This team is improving in all departments and we did a great job. The victory gives us hope of qualifying and allows us to continue to work with optimism." Italy are now three points clear of both their opponents and Sweden, who have two games in hand. The group winners qualify for next year's finals in Finland.