Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews admitted "we shot ourselves in the foot" after their hopes of Euro 2012 progress ended with a 4-0 thrashing by Spain in Gdansk.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men were once again guilty of conceding early goals at the start of each half, with Fernando Torres opening the scoring after just four minutes to give the reigning champions a perfect start.
Andrews said: "We tried to say before the game let's learn our lessons but we shot ourselves in the foot again.
"They were silly goals and we didn't learn, but they're such a top side any lapse in concentration is going to hurt you.
"For the majority of the game we were chasing shadows and we couldn't get near them. They are a fantastic side.
Andrews went on to pay tribute to the Irish fans who made up the majority of the crowd in the stadium, saying: "The fans were an absolute credit to their country and unfortunately we have not been able to give them what they deserved."
"We're playing (against Italy) purely for the fans and for our own pride. They've travelled in their thousands.
"With seven or eight minutes to go all you can hear is the Irish fans and we're losing three or 4-0."
But Andrews' reaction drew a furious response from former Republic captain Roy Keane, who insisted his nation needed to change their mentality if they wanted more success on the international stage.
Keane said: "I think the players and supporters have to change their mentality.
"It's just nonsense to say how great the supporters are. The supporters want to see the players do a lot better and not give daft goals away like that.
"Let's change that attitude towards Irish supporters. Let's not kid ourselves, they want to see their team winning, Let's not just go along for the sing-song now and again."
Keane also criticised the Irish performance, insisting: "It was a wake-up call for these players. The goals they gave away tonight at any level were absolutely shocking."
The FAI released a statement backing the Republic's fans to the hilt.
The statement read: "The Football Association of Ireland would like pay tribute to our fans who have once again proven that they are amongst the very best in the world.
"The atmosphere that our supporters generated in the stadium was phenomenal and has brought great pride to our country.
"Our players and management are disappointed that they could not get the result tonight that would have kept us in contention to qualify for the knock out stages and give the fans what they are hoping for."
The CEO of the Football Association of Ireland John Delaney, said: "The Irish fans have made many sacrifices to follow our squad and have been absolutely amazing.
"The abiding memory that we will take away from this match will be the many thousands of Irish fans singing the Fields of Athenry right up to and beyond the final whistle.
"They are a credit to the game and to our country. On behalf of the FAI, the squad and management team I would like to thank them for their incredible support."