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Italy defeat boosts Ireland's...
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Italy defeat boosts Ireland's under-21 Euro qualification hopes

Calum Atkinson
Calum Atkinson

21:48 8 Sep 2020

The Republic of Ireland's qualification hopes were boosted after Italy suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat away to Sweden in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier.

The result means that Ireland remain top of group one on 16 points after seven games, Italy sit on 13 points after six games, Iceland follow on 12 points and Sweden on nine, both also after six rounds.

The away loss to Sweden was Italy's first of the group after previously keeping five straight clean sheets.

The Azzurrini starting lineup in Kalmar featured highly rated players like Patrick Cutrone, Andrea Piamonti and Luca Pellegrini but they were overrun by a more match fit Swedish side.

A double from Pontus Almqvist and a second-half strike from Gustav Henriksson gave the Swedes a comfortable victory and kept their slim hopes of qualification alive.

Next month, Ireland travel to Italy for a crunch clash that will go a long way to deciding the group.

After the Italy game, Ireland face a strong Iceland side at home and then finish up with an away trip to play Luxembourg.

Jim Crawford has taken the reins of the squad from Stephen Kenny but his side had no games scheduled for this international window. They did however have a training camp in Belfast.

"It’s the biggest Under-21 game in the history of Irish football – against Italy, it’s a massive game for us," Crawford told FAI TV earlier this month.

"If the players can come into that October camp fit and ready, and us in this particular camp here in Belfast at the minute, bedding down our principles with the players, they both go hand-in-hand for Italy.”

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Italy Jim Crawford Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny Sweden

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