The Republic of Ireland's under-21 European Championship qualification bid was dealt a blow as they suffered a harsh 4-1 defeat at home to Italy.
Ireland took an early leaad through a Rolando Mandragora own goal, but goals from Marco Benassi, Valerio Rosetti, Alessio Romagnoli and a Darragh Lenihan own goal earned a comfortable victory for Angelo Di Livio's side.
Noel King's side came into the contest in Waterford in desperate need of a win to keep their qualification hopes alive, while the Italians were looking to build on their unbeaten run in the group which included a 1-0 win over Ireland in Vicenza last October.
Neither side made an early impression on the game, but it was Italy who had the first chance of the game.
Glen Rea sloppily gave the ball away to Dominico Berardi who burst into the box and squared the ball to Marco Bennassi, who failed to make strong contact and trouble Danny Rogers in the Irish goal.
Ireland came close to grabbing the lead as Brian Lenihan found space for a cross and whipped in towards Kevin O'Connor, who could only head his effort just wide of the post.
Ireland again nearly came close to scoring. A ball was thrown in long range from Jack Connors and a scramble ensued in the box and Callum O'Dowda let fly from close range but Gianluigi Donnaramma was there to save. Harry Charsley struck the rebound, but again Donnarama came to Italy's rescue.
Ireland made their pressure count as they took the lead when a low cross from a free kick by Jack Byrne was turned into his own net by Mandragora at the edge of the six-yard box.
Ireland came close to adding a second when Conor Wilkinson played a ball over the top for O'Dowda to chase and he raced into the box and unleashed a strike, which could only go narrowly wide of the far post.
Italy scored in equaliser in spectacular fashion as a cross field ball into the box from Gaetano Monatello was met on the volley by Italy skipper Benassi, who buried the ball in the net past a helpless Rogers.
Italy began dominating the game and soon added a second, Monatello was again the provider as he chased a ball to the byline and managed to chip a ball into the box, and Valerio Rosetti was on hand to head the ball in to the Ireland goal.
After a slow start to the second half, Glen Rea nearly added an Irish equaliser when he met a cross from Jack Byrne, but failed to make strong enough contact to trouble the goalkeeper.
Italy added a third to put this tie to bed as Cataldi drilled a low cross across the face of the goal and Romagnoli was on hand to slot the ball into the bottom corner.
Ireland were trying to get a route back into the game and nearly added a second when Donarumma dropped a corner and it fell to Conor Wilkinson, but he could only loop his shot over the crossbar
Ireland again nearly added a second but again Donarumma was there to save a wonderful header from Wilkinson.
Italy managed to add a fourth goal in the game through an own goal from Darragh Lenihan, who could only deflect the ball into the Irish net after a strike came off him from Romagnoli.
Ireland failed to bag another goal as the referee blows the final whistle to put and end to a miserable evening against a very strong and impressive Italian side.
Republic of Ireland under-21: Danny Rogers; Brian Lenihan, Jack Connors, Glen Rea, Niall Keown; Darragh Lenihan, Harry Charsley (Brandon Miele 71), Kevin O'Connor (Sean Hoare 71), Jack Byrne (Sean Maguire 82), Callum O'Dowda; Conor Wilkinson.
Subs Not Used: Ian Lawlor (gk), Shane Griffin, Sean Long.
Bookings: Glen Rea (20), Daragh Lenihan (24) Harry Charsley (57).
Italy under-21: Gianluigi Donnarumma; Andrea Conti, Antonio Barreca, Rolando Mandragora, Mattia Caldera; Alessio Romagnoli, Danilo Catald (Luca Mazzitellii 77), Marco Benassi, Domenico Berardi (Luca Garratano 64), Gaetano Monatello (Federico Ricci 83), Valerio Rosetti.
Subs Not Used: Alessio Cragni (gk), Alex Ferrari, Adam Masina, Alberrto Cerri.
Bookings: Danilo Cataldi (24) Rolando Mandragora (45).
Referee: Bart Vertenten (Belgium).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Marco Benassi (Italy).
You can see Matt Kirkham's selection of images from the game by clicking here.