Ireland did it the hard way tonight, but a 1-0 win against group winners Italy sent Martin O’Neill’s men into the knockout stages of the European Championships for the very first time.
Robbie Brady’s 85th minute header proved to be the difference as Ireland took the game to Italy in a manner rarely seen from this side.
One of the greatest moments in Irish footballing history, here is the moment again in all its glory:
O’Neill took some criticsm for his team selection, but it proved to be spot on as replacements Daryl Murphy, Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy and James McClean all put in stellar performances, Conte’s changed Italian lineup offered little threat for much of the match.
The result sends Ireland through as one of the best third placed qualifiers, the four points amassed enough to see the Boys in Green through.
They will now face tournament hosts and many people’s favourites France in the next round in Lyon on Sunday.
But that can wait. Right now, the only thing on the players and fans’ minds is that they, once again, have done what many thought would be impossible.
The 3-0 defeat to Belgium in Bordeaux seems like a lifetime ago now.
The moment Ireland qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2016 https://t.co/BFHH30SU55
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 22, 2016