Ireland strike gold with another late winner

 

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Euro 2016 is becoming known for its last-gasp goals so it was perhaps predictable there would be some late drama as the group stage came to a conclusion.

The army of Republic fans certainly never gave up hope, although it had seemed their side had, again, run out of ideas.

After managing only one shot on target in their first two group games – Hoolahan’s goal against Sweden – O’Neill understandably went for a more ambitious approach on an all-or-nothing night for his side.

But with Jon Walters unfit and veteran striker Robbie Keane only having the legs for cameo appearances these days, the only way he could bolster his attack was by calling on Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy, who is at times prolific in the Championship but has never scored in 20 games for his country.

Yet the Republic did look more dangerous, particularly in the first half when Murphy saw a header tipped over and James McClean could, and probably should, have had a penalty when Federico Bernardeschi barged to the ground inside the box.

After the break, Italy had looked far more in control until the final few minutes.

Hoolahan wasted a golden opportunity when he was gifted the ball on the edge of the box, and it looked like the Republic’s last chance in France had come and gone – until Brady proved otherwise.

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