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Page last updated at 20:51 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 21:51 UK

Italy 1-1 Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland's Stephen Hunt competes  against Daniele De Rossi of Italy
Ireland's Stephen Hunt competes against Daniele De Rossi of Italy

By Lyle Jackson

Robbie Keane's 87th-minute goal saw the Republic of Ireland salvage a precious Group Eight point against world champions Italy in Bari.

Italy, rocked by the early dismissal of Giampaolo Pazzini led through an 11th-minute goal by Vincenzo Iaquinta .

Pazzini was sent-off for catching John O'Shea with his arm only three minutes into his first senior start for Italy.

It looked like Italy would protect their lead until Keane pounced to score his 38th goal in 88 Irish appearances.

It means the Republic, whose next match is away to Bulgaria on 6 June, remain two points behind Marcello Lippi's pacesetters.

Giampaolo Pazzini was sent-off
Giampaolo Pazzini of Italy was sent-off after just three minutes in Bari

Italy protested about the early dismissal, claiming Pazzini's contact on O'Shea with a flailing arm had not been intentional.

It left the Manchester United defender bloodied and in need of treatment but he was able to continue as the Italians attempted to reshuffle with Iaquinta now playing as a lone striker.

It was Iaquinta who put the 10 men in front after defender Fabio Grosso ran on to Andrea Pirlo's perfect pass and crossed for the Juventus forward to net from just a few yards out.

Ireland came more into the game but they might have fallen further behind when keeper Shay Given failed to get a meaningful touch to another Grosso cross and Pepe fired into the side-netting.

Buffon made his first serious save five minutes before the break, tipping over a volley from Stephen Hunt.

In the second half, Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish side worked hard to salvage a point but it was not until an enthralling final 10 minutes or so that the home side wavered and, when they did, Ireland took advantage.

Kevin Kilbane saw an 84th-minute shot deflected over as the Italians became increasingly edgy at the back.

They finally cracked three minutes later when Given's long clearance broke to Keane who stabbed home.

Keane almost snatched a winner but volleyed a chance over with his shin.

Italy: Buffon, Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Grosso, Brighi, De Rossi, Pirlo, Pepe, Pazzini, Iaquinta.

Republic of Ireland: Given, McShane, Dunne, O'Shea, Kilbane, Keogh, Whelan, Andrews, Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Keane.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)

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see also
Trapattoni happy with Italy draw
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Trapattoni regrets dropped points
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Rep of Ireland 1-1 Bulgaria
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals
Republic of Ireland 2-1 Georgia
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Republic of Ireland 1-0 Cyprus
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Republic draw delights Trapattoni
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Montenegro 0-0 Rep of Ireland
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Republic of Ireland 2-3 Poland
19 Nov 08 |  Internationals

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