Republic of Ireland U21 0-2 Italy U21

The Republic of Ireland suffered a 2-0 defeat at Tallaght Stadium with goals from Lorenzo Lucca and second-half substitute Matteo Cancellieri for Italy in their Under-21 European Championship qualifier.

Jim Crawford's team impressed with their style of play and positive approach, but a bit of luck evaded them as evidenced when Ross Tierney forced a smart save from Italy's Marco Carnesecchi.

The home side made four changes to the side that lost to Montenegro with Will Smallbone returning, while Colm Whelan made his first start and Tyreik Wright and Conor Noss also featured in the starting line-up.

Ireland started the brighter with Wright going the closest in the early exchanges. The Salford City player sent in a deep cross that forced Marco Carnesecchi to tip the ball over for a corner. Emanuel Vignato had the first chance of note for the visitors as he latched onto a Matteo Lovato cross with a volley but his effort just went wide of Brian Maher's far post.

Italy's Lorenzo Colombo holds off the challenge of Mark McGuinness

Samuele Ricci also had an early sight on goal but his effort went over the bar. Wright was once again the architect in creating a chance for Ireland as his cross into the Italian area was met by Whelan but his shot took a deflection out for a corner.

Salvatore Esposito's free-kick for the Azzurri on the edge of the area was blocked by Conor Coventry.

The visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Jake O’Brien slipped in the area and the ball came loose with Lucca on hand to fire in a low-range effort past Maher.

Emanuel Vignato almost added a second as he received the ball on the edge of the area but his shot wide just wide of Maher's goal.

Ricci once again had a chance on goal but his effort went wide just before halftime.

After the interval, Italy had an early chance from the restart to extend their lead as Italian debutant Andrea Cambiaso struck a volley that went over Maher's crossbar.

Second-half Irish substitute Joshua Kayode had a penalty appeal turned away after he and Caleb Okoli clashed in the Italian area. From the resulting free-kick, the ball found its way to Festy Ebosele at the back post but his effort went over the bar.

Maher produced an excellent low save denying Nicolo Rovella who struck his effort from the edge of the area. The Italian forward was to go close again moments later as Rovella got in behind the Irish defence latching onto an initial shot by Lucca but his shot went wide.

Tierney forced a great save from Carnesecchi as the Bohemians forward timed his run excellently in the box from an initial Dawson Devoy free-kick. He was denied a certain goal as his half volley was saved by the onrushing Italian keeper.

Moments later, Lorenzo Colombo's well-struck effort was stopped on the line by Maher.

Matteo Cancellieri would secure the points for the away side as Ireland committed numbers forward late in the game and the Italians counter-attacked with Lucca setting up Cancellieri who broke free of the Irish defence and slotted it past Maher.

Crawford's players will now switch their focus to next Tuesday's clash at home with Sweden.

Republic of Ireland: Brian Maher, Lee O’Connor, Mark McGuinness, Jake O’Brien, Joel Bagan, Conor Coventry, Gavin Kilkenny (Dawson Devoy 76), Conor Noss (Festy Ebosele 56), Will Smallbone (Ross Tierney 76), Tyreik Wright, Colm Whelan (Joshua Kayode 56).

Italy: Marco Carnesecchi, Raoul Bellanova, Samuele Ricci, Matteo Lovato (Lorenzo Pirola 34), Lorenzo Colombo (Matteo Cancellieri 85), Lorenzo Lucca, Nicolo Rovella, Salvatore Esposito, Caleb Okoli, Andrea Cambiaso, Emanuel Vignato (Samuele Mulattieri 90).

Referee: Horatiu Fesnic (Romania).