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Player Ratings As Ireland Hold Italy To Scoreless Draw In Tallaght Battle

Ireland’s Under-21s held Italy to a scoreless draw at Tallaght Stadium to keep their unbeaten start to their European qualifying campaign in tact.

The first half was very evenly matched as the two sides struggled to get the upper hand, with a strike from Troy Parrott and a mini case of handbags between the teams the best of the opening action.

The second half though saw the intensity upped from both sides as a flashpoint which saw Moise Kean raise his hands to Parrott who made the most of the incident and resulted in the pair seeing red.

Despite falling to 10 men neither could find the breakthrough in an incredibly even affair at Tallaght Stadium.

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Caoimhin Kelleher – 7

As tidy as usual with the ball at his feet, Kelleher had very little to do in the first 45 minutes by way of shot-stopping, making a couple of smart saves though in the second.

It was, however, his passing long which was his most effective weapon as he twice found Idah over the top of the Italian defence who proved tremendously effective on the night.

Kelleher has proven himself to be the base upon which Kenny’s side often build their attacks and tonight was no different.

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Lee O’Connor – 7

Ireland’s most capped underage international, Lee O’Connor has become vital in the right-back role for Stephen Kenny’s side.

Italy attempted to attack his side but he and Zac Elbouzedi were strong as a unit supplementing each other very well and dealing brilliantly with what their opponents had to offer.

Going forward, O’Connor raided well although he probably spent more time defending than he would usually like.

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Conor Masterson – 8

Alongside Dara O’Shea, the QPR defender had his work cut out for him throughout the evening but like his centre-back partner he stood up to the test.

Excellent in the air and calm in possession, Masterson seems to have built up a really strong relationship with the West Brom man on a great night for the Irish back four.

They both faced different challenges in either half and their ability to adapt and deal with all the Italians had is a true testament to their quality.

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Dara O’Shea – 9

Up against a real handful in Andrea Pinamonti in the first half, their battle was one of the most intriguing storylines throughout the opening 45.

Italy brought on Patrick Cutrone and Moise Kean and the challenge became very different, despite the latter not lasting too long on the field.

O’Shea though was strong in the tackle and arguably even better in the air in what was one of the toughest challenges of his career to date.

He never put a foot wrong.

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Liam Scales – 8

Scales was given the nod at left-back due to Darragh Leahy’s injury in what started out as a flat back four for the Boys in Green, and the UCD man settled well in the early exchanges of this one.

Throughout the game he had to deal with the lively challenge of Davide Frattesi and playing behind a natural striker, Scales played his role very well.

Attack-wise, he may not have been effective as O’Connor on the other flank, but given the scale of the game, he was calm and composed in his role.

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Conor Coventry – 7 

The West Ham man is rarely one to grab the headlines, but his work in the midfield was strong, snapping into tackles and playing intelligent passes.

Alongside Molumby he knew when to sit and when to allow his captain to push forward and is a calming presence in the middle of the park.

A composed performance throughout.

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Jayson Molumby – 7

The last time Molumby played at Tallaght Stadium he ran the game from the midfield, and he was in the thick of the action throughout, flying into challenges and roaring at just about anyone who would listen.

In the first half, he was lively but left space when he pressed at times, although the Irish defence did very well to shut down their opponents between the lines.

He tried to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and in fairness, ran himself into the ground for the cause, even if it wasn’t one of his finest displays for the Boys in Green.

Connor Ronan – 6

Ronan was back in the starting XI for this one after missing the wins over Armenia and Sweden with a broken rib, but started this one rather slowly and struggled to really put his stamp on the game.

He did his best to create space in between the lines and had some promising touches, but never really got going against a strong Italian outfit.

The young midfielder was replaced in the 60th minute by Jason Knight.

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Zac Elbouzedi – 6

A favourite of Stephen Kenny’s, Elbouzedi wasn’t overly effective going forward, but his work on the defensive end against Italy  should not be overlooked.

He aided O’Connor on a host of different occasions and his knowledge of the role meant that when the Celtic man was missing he would seamlessly slot in.

It’s easy to see why the Irish manager has so much faith in him and the work rate he brings to the team even if it isn’t often evident.

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Troy Parrott – 5

Parrott was the two-goal hero in Sweden and with the return of Ronan to the number 10 role, the Spurs man was pushed out to the left-hand side.

The 17-year-old had Ireland’s best effort in the first half but he struggled out wide especially with the defensive side, before almost finding the net again in the second.

He was then involved in the game’s flashpoint as he received a second yellow card for what appeared to be his reaction to Kean raising his hands which also resulted in the Everton man seeing red.

A disappointing evening.

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Adam Idah – 8

Idah didn’t start the victory over Sweden but was restored to the team after the injury to Celtic striker Jonathan Afolabi, the Norwich frontman was excellent against Italy.

He proved such a handful for the opposing defence, with his ability to hold up the ball a real asset as his good work twice created chances for Parrott.

Over the top, Idah was also promising as he latched onto long-balls, outmuscling and out-pacing the Italian defenders.

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Subs

Jason Knight – 6

Had a few nice touches in the middle but failed to really have much of an impact on proceedings.

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Michael Obafemi – 7

The Saints man looked very lively when he was introduced with his pace causing the Italians trouble.

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Gavin Kilkenny – N/A

Not on long enough to rate.

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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com