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Jun 232016
 
Wales and Northern Ireland had never qualified for the European Championship before

Wales will play Northern Ireland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, while England take on Iceland and the Republic of Ireland face France.

The Republic were minutes from going out but finished third in Group E with a late 1-0 win over Italy and progress.

Wales, who topped Group B, play Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday (17:00 BST) live on BBC One.

England, who were runners-up behind Wales, play surprise Group F runners-up Iceland in Nice on Monday (20:00 BST).

Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland side, who like Northern Ireland qualified as one of four best third-placed teams, take on hosts France in Lyon on Sunday at 14:00 BST.

Neither Northern Ireland nor Wales had ever qualified for the European Championship before this year’s edition, the first to feature 24 teams, while it is the first time the Republic have made the knockout stages of a Euros.

The last time the Republic of Ireland played France was in 2009, when Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up to the deciding goal in a World Cup qualification play-off.

With a population of just 330,000, England’s opponents Iceland are the smallest nation ever to qualify for the tournament.

Late drama justifies extended tournament

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Highlights: Italy 0-1 Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland were heading out before a late Robbie Brady header gave them a 1-0 win over Italy and sent them through as another one of the best third-placed teams.

Winger James McClean said the sight of “grown men crying and complete love for our country” was “quite remarkable”, adding: “We knew it would be win or bust, we left nothing on the field, the best night of my life, hands down.”

Goalscorer Brady said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” by the result and described it as an “out of body experience”.

That dramatic climax echoed scenes earlier on Wednesday as Iceland sealed second place in Group F by scoring a last-minute goal to beat Austria 2-1.

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Iceland score in injury time to beat Austria

That twist left Portugal in third – after their star forward Cristiano Ronaldo criticised Iceland’s “small mentality” earlier in the group stages.

Had the match finished 1-1, England would have faced Portugal in the last 16 instead.

The Portuguese, who now play Group D winners Croatia, knocked England out of the European Championship in 2004 and the World Cup in 2006, both times after a penalty shootout.

BBC commentator John Motson said: “The third-place argument has been laid to rest. Who would have thought when we started this adventure that England, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland would all be in the last 16?”

The full draw

All times BST

Switzerland v Poland (Saturday 14:00 on BBC)

Wales v Northern Ireland (Saturday 17:00 on BBC)

Croatia v Portugal (Saturday 20:00 on ITV)

France v Republic of Ireland (Sunday 14:00 on ITV)

Germany v Slovakia (Sunday 17:00 on ITV)

Hungary v Belgium (Sunday 20:00 on BBC)

Italy v Spain (Monday 17:00 on BBC)

England v Iceland (Monday 20:00 on ITV)

Reaction

Former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane on BBC Radio 5 live: “It does not get any better than this. We wanted this, we were desperate for this – I fancied our chances.

“It is amazing. I am so happy for Martin O’Neill, the staff and the supporters. They have done us all proud. This is incredible.”

Boss Martin O’Neill later said: “It is definite we are playing France, isn’t it? Mmmm, easy.”

The draw means at least one of the home nations will definitely make the quarter-finals and Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill described facing Wales as a “fantastic game”.

He told BBC Sport: “We will be heading back to the Parc des Princes which as we know from Tuesday night is a brilliant stadium. We will benefit from the familiarity of having been there already, of having done the journey and of having played on the pitch.

“The results tonight put us in what is arguably the more favourable side of the draw, so we are pleased about that.”

Wales boss Chris Coleman said he expects Northern Ireland to be “superbly organised and defensively so difficult to break down”.

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Icelandic commentator goes wild over late winner
England striker Harry Kane has yet to score in the tournament
Republic of Ireland forward Jon Walters tweeted this post-match celebration picture

Key stats

  • Portugal forward Ronaldo became the first player to score at four different Euros when he netted against Hungary.
  • This year’s final is already guaranteed to feature a nation that has never won a major tournament.
  • England averaged 60.5% possession in the group stages; Iceland’s was 29.0%.
  • Victory over Italy was the Republic of Ireland’s first Euros win since beating England in their first ever game at the finals in 1988.
  • Wales and Hungary scored more goals than any other team (six) in the group stages.
  • 69 goals have been scored so far, a rate of 1.92 per game, the lowest average for a Euro group phase 1992 (1.75).
  • 27.5% of the goals came from the 80th minute onwards (19).
  • This is the first time since 1996 that no team won all three of their group games.

Harder side of the draw for England

England boss Roy Hodgson has been criticised as his much-changed side failed to beat Slovakia and ended up in the bottom half of the draw.

Teams now potentially in England’s path have won 19 major international trophies – compared with none in the other side of the draw, where Wales, as Group B winners, sit.

Hodgson said England are “not frightened of anybody” but they have been drawn alongside previous World Cup winners and European champions Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

The most successful teams in the top half of the draw are Hungary – with two World Cup runners-up medals – and Belgium and Portugal, who have both been runners-up once in the European Championship.

Who is out?

Albania’s players were rewarded with diplomatic passports after a 1-0 win over Romania gave them hope of progressing as one of the best third-placed teams, but missed out on goal difference.

Romania, denied a point against France in the tournament’s opening match by a late Dimitri Payet strike, finished bottom of Group A.

Russia’s players were widely criticised in the nation’s media after finishing bottom of Group B with just one point, despite holding England to a draw with a late goal of their own. Manager Leonid Slutsky has offered his resignation.

Ukraine were the only side to fail to score and exit without a point, the 2-0 defeat by Northern Ireland ultimately proving enough for O’Neill’s side to progress.

Sweden finished bottom of Group E after defeat by Belgium on Wednesday, prompting striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s retirement.

Turkey’s 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic gave them hope of making the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed teams, but they were denied by the Republic of Ireland’s winner against Italy.

The Czechs finished bottom in Group D, while Austria scored just one goal in their three games to finish bottom of Group F.

Who would make it into your starting XI of the tournament so far?

The group stage is over at Euro 2016 – but who were the best players? Pick your group stage XI using our team selector.

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Icelandic commentator goes wild over late winner

An Icelandic commentator erupts into ecstatic screaming as Arnor Ingvi Traustason nets an injury-time winner against Austria to seal Iceland’s place in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

WATCH MORE: Highlights: Iceland 2-1 Austria

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Highlights: Italy 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Robbie Brady’s dramatic late winner sank Italy and sent the Republic of Ireland into the last 16 of Euro 2016.

Martin O’Neill’s side knew only a victory would secure a place in the knockout stage in France but had failed to find a way through the Azzurri’s defence until Brady headed home Wes Hoolahan’s cross in the 85th minute.

That sparked mass celebrations from the Republic players, bench and supporters under the closed roof at Stade Pierre Mauroy, which had largely been taken over by the Boys in Green.

Defeat made little difference to Italy, who already knew they would top Group C and made eight changes ahead of Monday’s last-16 match with holders Spain.

But the Republic join them as one of the best third-placed sides – and will face the hosts on Saturday – after one of the most famous wins in their history that started a huge party in Lille.

Relive the Republic’s victory over Italy

Ireland strike gold with another late winner

Robbie Brady scores for Republic of Ireland against Italy

Euro 2016 is becoming known for its last-gasp goals so it was perhaps predictable there would be some late drama as the group stage came to a conclusion.

The army of Republic fans certainly never gave up hope, although it had seemed their side had, again, run out of ideas.

After managing only one shot on target in their first two group games – Hoolahan’s goal against Sweden – O’Neill understandably went for a more ambitious approach on an all-or-nothing night for his side.

But with Jon Walters unfit and veteran striker Robbie Keane only having the legs for cameo appearances these days, the only way he could bolster his attack was by calling on Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy, who is at times prolific in the Championship but has never scored in 20 games for his country.

Yet the Republic did look more dangerous, particularly in the first half when Murphy saw a header tipped over and James McClean could, and probably should, have had a penalty when Federico Bernardeschi barged to the ground inside the box.

After the break, Italy had looked far more in control until the final few minutes.

Hoolahan wasted a golden opportunity when he was gifted the ball on the edge of the box, and it looked like the Republic’s last chance in France had come and gone – until Brady proved otherwise.

Most of the Republic’s attacking was done down the left flank but the goal came from a cross from the right

Second-choice Italy still a tough nut to crack

Monday’s encounter with holders Spain in Paris was clearly very much on Italy boss Antonio Conte’s mind when he selected his side for this match.

That, plus the much-maligned – and soon to be re-laid – pitch in Lille was supposed to give the Republic extra hope of their first win over the Azzurri since their memorable triumph at the 1994 World Cup.

It soon became clear, however, that this second-choice Italy side were determined to keep their side’s third clean sheet of the tournament.

Until the very end of the game they largely kept the Republic at arm’s length, and despite showing little inclination to attack, also threatened at the other end when Simone Zaza volleyed over just after half-time and Lorenzo Insigne hit the post late on.

Their tournament gets a lot harder from here, however, starting with that rematch from the final of Euro 2012 that ended with Spain running out 4-0 winners.

Man of the match – Robbie Brady

Who else? His set-pieces were behind most of his side’s best chances in the first half, but he saved his best moment until last, leaping to get on the end of Hoolahan’s inviting cross into the box

‘I am absolutely flabbergasted’

Italy boss Antonio Conte: “[We played] against a side that played a lot of long balls, there were a lot of powerful tackles. The pitch definitely helped them more than us but they put a lot of grit into this game because it was life and death for them.

“Congratulations to the Republic of Ireland because they really wanted to go through and they were rewarded, perhaps more than they deserved, but they were rewarded nonetheless.”

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill: “We deserved to win it. We dominated for periods of the game and played some phenomenal stuff.

“It is a very special evening. To come out of the group that we were in is a great achievement.”

Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Brady: “I grew up dreaming about this stage and to go and do it in front of my family is the best feeling in the world.

“We need to regroup and go again but I am absolutely flabbergasted by it all. Every single one of the lads were unbelievable tonight.”

The stats you need to know

  • The Republic of Ireland have reached the knockout stages of the European Championship for the first time.
  • There were 40 fouls in this match, more than in any game at Euro 2016 so far.
  • This was only Italy’s third defeat in 24 group stage games at the European Championship.
  • Robbie Brady became only the fifth player to score for the Republic of Ireland at the European Championship, joining Ronnie Whelan, Ray Houghton, Sean St Ledger and Wes Hoolahan.

What next?

The Republic of Ireland’s game against France will take place in Lyon at 14:00 BST on Sunday, 26 June, while Italy’s match with Spain will be at the Stade de France at 17:00 BST on Monday, 27 June.

Live Text

Match ends, Italy 0, Republic of Ireland 1.

Second Half ends, Italy 0, Republic of Ireland 1.

Foul by Simone Zaza (Italy).

Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Lorenzo Insigne (Italy) is shown the yellow card.

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Stephen Quinn replaces Shane Long.

Simone Zaza (Italy) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Simone Zaza (Italy).

Robbie Brady (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal! Italy 0, Republic of Ireland 1. Robbie Brady (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Wes Hoolahan with a cross.

Attempt saved. Stephan El Shaarawy (Italy) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lorenzo Insigne.

Attempt saved. Wes Hoolahan (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt saved. Aiden McGeady (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Wes Hoolahan.

Attempt missed. Alessandro Florenzi (Italy) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Thiago Motta.

Substitution, Italy. Stephan El Shaarawy replaces Mattia De Sciglio.

Corner, Italy. Conceded by Shane Duffy.

Foul by Lorenzo Insigne (Italy).

Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Andrea Barzagli (Italy) is shown the yellow card.

Stefano Sturaro (Italy) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Robbie Brady (Republic of Ireland).

Lorenzo Insigne (Italy) hits the right post with a right footed shot from outside the box.

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Wes Hoolahan replaces James McCarthy.

Thiago Motta (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Shane Long (Republic of Ireland).

Mattia De Sciglio (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland).

Substitution, Italy. Lorenzo Insigne replaces Ciro Immobile.

Attempt missed. Aiden McGeady (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Robbie Brady.

Stephen Ward (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt missed. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Aiden McGeady replaces Daryl Murphy.

Foul by Simone Zaza (Italy).

Richard Keogh (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Simone Zaza (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Richard Keogh (Republic of Ireland).

Foul by Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland).

Ciro Immobile (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Foul by Andrea Barzagli (Italy).

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