Italy's Under-21s ended their qualification campaign for the 2013 Euros with a humiliating 4-2 defeat at home to a Republic of Ireland side that ended the game with nine men.
The young Italians were already through as Group winners, but were keen to preserve their unbeaten record, whereas the Irish were already out. Devis Mangia, presiding over only his second competitive games as Azzurrini boss, selected a strong side including Genoa's Ciro Immobile and Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy for the match at the Stadio Giuseppe Capozza in Casarano.
Things went badly wrong as early as the 23rd minute however, when Sean Murray caught out Italy 'keeper Mattia Perin with a sumptous lob. The hosts equalised 10 minutes later through Cesena defender Luca Caldirola, and seemed to be in complete control when Irish defender Derrick Williams was sent off and a penalty awarded shortly before half-time.
But Immobile missed the spot-kick, and remarkably, Noel King's 10 men found themselves 3-1 up inside 15 minutes of the second half, Aaron Doran and Conor Henderson both netting.
There was then a power cut which suspended play for 25 minutes, but Italy's misery was only temporarily postponed, Doran on hand to make it 4-1 in the 75th minute.
There was another red card - for Ireland's Anthony Forde - and yet another power cut - before El Shaarawy scraped back a slither of respectability for Mangia's boys with a consolation goal in the dying seconds.
Italy Under-21s 2 Republic of Ireland Under-21s 4
Scorers: Caldirola 35 (I), El Shaarawy 95 (I), Murray 23 (R), Doran 57, 82 (R), Henderson 58 (R)
Italy U-21: Perin; Faraoni, Caldirola, Masi, Crescenzi; Rossi, Sala (Viviani 46), Marrone (Laribi 69); Immobile (Da Luca 57), Gabbiadini, El Shaarawy
R.O.I U-21: McCarey, Doherty, White, Egan, Wlliams; Henderson, Forde, Carruthers, Doran; Murray, O'Kane
Ref: Kruzliak (SVK)
Missed pen: Immobile 38 (I)
Sent off: Williams 37 (R), Forde 83 (R)
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