Ridiculed and vilified before a ball had been kicked; resolute and victorious once the games begin. Italy, we have been here before.
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is As Zlatan Ibrahimovic surveyed the rousing scene before kick-off, he gave a little nod as if to deign this arena and occasion worthy of his presence. The man who famously said a World Cup without him was not worth watching was ready. We could begin.
Gerard Piqué once joked that the solution to those games when there was no way through, when teams defended deep against Spain or Barcelona, frustrating them, when the clock kept running and the chances kept coming but the ball just wouldn’t go in, was simple: stick him up front sooner.
The Republic of Ireland have not had much luck at the European Championship or, indeed, at this stadium but, for a brief period on a pulsating evening, Martin O’Neill’s players looked set to etch their names into history. They had dominated this Group E opener and, when Wes Hoolahan put them in front with a sumptuous half-volley, they could begin to dream.
Better late than never.
Liverpool's Joao Teixeira is signing with Porto.
Hamburg are reportedly interested in signing Moussa Sissoko from Newcastle United in the summer transfer window.
HITC Sport understands Fulham are close to appointing Reading boss Steve Clarke as their new manager.
Jamie Redknapp says Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier belongs in England's Euro 2016 squad.
Chelsea have been linked with a move for West Brom striker Saido Berahino, but they may want to look at other areas of their side as well.