It was first against fourth seeds tonight as the Republic of Ireland Under-21s hosted Italy at Tallaght Stadium. It did not look like Ireland were three seeding spots below the Azzurini though as Stephen Kenny’s side more than held their own in earning a 0-0 draw in front of a record crowd for an Under-21 international in Ireland of 7,231 people.
Troy Parrott was red carded having been shown a second yellow by German referee Sascha Stegemann for his involvement in an incident which also saw Italy’s Everton striker Moise Kean sent-off.
Tensions threatened to bubble over all evening during a hotly-contested Group 1 encounter, and when Parrott and Kean clashed in the 63rd minute, Sascha Stegemann took the opportunity to dish out severe punishment.
While you could argue Kean’s dismissal was harsh, the referee’s decision to send Tottenham striker Parrott off was extremely severe, after he had been booked early on.
The Irish team saw four changes from the side that beat Sweden last month. Liam Scales came into the defence with Darragh Leahy injured. Jonathan Afolabi was also ruled out, while Connor Ronan returned from injury.
Parrott was also restored to the starting XI, after coming off the bench against Sweden, with Aaron Connolly promoted to the seniors. Danny Mandroiu dropped to the bench, with Adam Idah also coming back into the side.
Italy carved out the game’s first real chance on 17 minutes. Luca Pellegrini’s cross found Andrea Pinamonti, who got in front of Dara O’Shea and headed just wide.
Italy went close again just after the half-hour mark. A corner caused havoc in the box, and a goalmouth scramble eventually led to Davide Frattesi shooting just over.
Ireland threatened early in the second half. Zachary Elbouzedi’s cross picked out Idah, who backheeled it to Parrott, and the Spurs youngster’s low snapshot went the wrong side of the post.
Then came the red card controversy.
Molumby’s driven free kick was parried over by Marco Carnesecchi as Ireland finished strongly with the Italians creating little late on and a draw was a fair result on the night.
Republic of Ireland: Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Masterson, Dara O’Shea, Liam Scales, Lee O’Connor, Zachary Elbouzedi (Obafemi 68), Jayson Molumby (Kilkenny 85), Conor Coventry, Connor Ronan (Knight 62), Troy Parrott, Adam Idah.
Italy: Marco Carnesecchi, Luca Pellegrini, Alessandro Bastoni, Riccardo Marchizza (Adjapong 23), Enrico Del Prato, Marco Carraro (Sottil 68), Sandro Tonali, Manuel Locatelli, Davide Frattesi, Andrea Pinamonti (Cutrone 46), Gianluca Scamacca (Kean 46)
Referee: Sascha Stegemann (Ger)
Man of the Match: Conor Coventry