Top 10 Euro 2012 conclusions: Italy 2-0 Republic of Ireland
1. No matter how loud or how often you shout “Get Ray Houghton on!” at the TV, it won’t actually happen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXauYVy_dws
2. The pupil beat his master. Csare Prandelli played under Giovanni Trapattoni at Juventus in the 1980s, and despite playing in fits and starts, his side did just enough to send Ireland home without so much as a point.
3. Shay Given has probably had more screen time than any other player at Euro 2012, sadly for all the wrong reasons. The veteran keeper dropped another clanger to give away the corner from which Antonio Cassano opened the scoring.
4. Ireland saved their best for last, but only in fleeting spells. That Keith Andrews and Glen Whelan at times won their midfield battles with Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta says a lot for Ireland’s fighting spirit, which was strangely lacking for most of their first two games.
5. One of the only other bright spots from an Irish perspective was former national coach and firm OTP favourite Big Mick McCarthy’s impossibly biased commentary for the BBC.
6. Richard Dunne managed not to get nutmegged for either of Italy’s goals, a vast improvement from the Spain game.
7. Mario Balotelli’s tournament starts here. After being hauled off early in the second half of Italy’s first two games, the volatile Manchester City man opened his account with a sublime volley, despite a rather industrial challenge from John O’Shea.
8. Gigi Buffon bears an unlikely resemblance to Italian women’s tennis no.1 Francesca Schiavone.
9. Antonio Di Natale’s finishing skills are from another planet. After rounding Given, his shot from on the byline looked like upsetting all the odds and going it, were it not for Sean St Ledger’s goal-line clearance.
10. There’s always a strange pleasure to be had when watching footballers who don’t know the result of a game that you’ve just seen finish. Italy’s celebrations showed a unified team, who’ll be more than a match for England or France (or possibly Ukraine) in the quarter-finals.