A late header by Robbie Brady made sure the Republic of Ireland secure their place in the knockout stage of the Euro 2016 tournament, following a 1-0 victory over Italy in Lille.
Martin O’Neill’s side knew only a win would see them advance into the knockout stages of the Euro 2016 tournament , but the match looked set to end goalless until the Irish midfielder score a 85th minute goal from an inch-perfect cross by Wes Hoolahan to guide the ball pass Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
With top spot in the Group E already secure by Italy, Antonio Conte made eight changes to his starting line-up, with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Antonio Candreva all left out.
While Martin O’Neill made four changes to the side that were defeated 3-0 by Belgium, Richard Keogh and Shane Duffy replaced John O’Shea and Ciaran Clark in defence.
The Republic of Ireland got off to a flying start during the opening minutes of their Group E encounter against group leaders Italy.
Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick fired a 25-yard attempt inches wide of the post in the 11th minute of the match as Ireland played on the front-foot against the Italian side.
Shane Duffy came close to giving Ireland the lead in the 23rd minute as his headed forced Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu into tipping the ball over the bar.
Ireland continued to press forward in search of the opening goal and were left frustrated when Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan failed to award them a penalty after Italian forward Federico Bernardeschi challenged James McClean from behind inside the penalty area.
Italy nearly took the lead in the 53rd minutes as Simone Zaza volleyed effort flew just over from a Mattia de Sciglio cross.
Just 10 minutes later and Irish midfielder Jeffrey Hendrick should have gave Ireland the lead as he dragged his shot wide, while Ipswich Town forward Daryl Murphy tested Sirigu from a tight angle minutes later.
Italy had a great chance to take the lead with 12 minutes remaining as substitute Lorenzo Insigne struck the outside of the post.
Ireland substitute Hoolahan found himself through one goal and one-on-one with the Italian shot-stopper but fluffed his shot straight into the arms of the Italian keepers arms.
The Norwich City midfielder made amends for his earlier miss when he cross an inch-perfect toward Robbie Brady, who headed the ball into the net with five minutes until the final whistle.
The result also means Wales will face Northern Ireland in Paris on Monday, while Belgium, who beat Sweden 1-0 to finish runners-up in Group E, take on Hungary.