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 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.
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