Italy have qualified for the 2023 European Under-21 Championship group phase after sweeping the Republic of Ireland aside 4-1 to consolidate top spot in the group.
Both teams were guaranteed at least the play-offs, but the Azzurrini knew one point would be enough to secure top spot in the group and therefore automatic qualification to the group phase in Romania and Georgia in June 2023.
Cambiaghi made it 2-0 with a splendid strike from outside the box that bounced right in front of the goalkeeper, who flapped at it as it flew into the near bottom corner.
Another Cambiaghi curler was fingertipped just over the bar and within 38 seconds of the restart, Pellegri had got the third from close range after defenders and goalkeeper completely failed to deal with Cambiaghi’s run.
Mattia Viti had a nightmare couple of minutes, first turning a free header over, then completely mis-timing his tackle to bring down William Smallbone for a penalty, converted by Conor Coventry.
Fabio Quagliata celebrated his first goal at Under-21 level, his cheeky dummy wrong-footing defenders in the box. It was the first time in this two-year cycle that Italy scored four goals.
After the final whistle, the entire squad and staff stood in a circle on the pitch and sang the Italian national anthem acapella.
Italy 4-1 Rep Ireland
Rovella pen 20 (I), Cambiaghi 35 (I), Pellegri 46 (I), Coventry pen 62 (ROI), Quagliata 86 (I)
Italy U21: Plizzari; Okoli, Pirola, Viti, Parisi (Quagliata 66); Cambiaso, Ricci, Rovella (Ranocchia 88), Bove (Miretti 66); Pellegri (Seb Esposito 83), Cambiaghi (Colombo 88)
Rep Ireland U21: Maher; L O’Connor, Cashin (O’Brien 83), McGuinness, Bagan (Lyons 46); Smallbone, Coventry, Kilkenny (Odubeko 62), Wright; Ferguson (Ogunfaolu-Kayode 74), Kerrigan (Noß 62)
🇮🇹 𝗤𝗨𝗔𝗟𝗜𝗙𝗜𝗘𝗗 🇮🇹
They’ve played in more #U21EURO final tournaments than any other team – and Italy will be in another next summer in Georgia and Romania after a 4-1 win against the Republic of Ireland, who head to a first play-off🏆 https://t.co/MgqKLZAJ01 pic.twitter.com/KGkGjZXspb
— UEFA U21 EURO (@UEFAUnder21) June 14, 2022