ROMANIAN referee Ovidiu Alin Hategan will take charge of the Republic of Ireland’s decisive Euro 2016 clash with Italy in Lille on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old has been confirmed as the man in the middle as Martin O’Neill’s men must beat the Italians in their final Group E game to reach the last 16 (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV).
He will be assisted at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy by fellow countrymen Octavian Sovre and Sebastian Gheorghe, with Alexandru Tudor and Sebastian Coltescu acting as additional assistants.
Greece’s Anastasios Sidiropoulos is the fourth official, while compatriot Damianos Efthymiadis will be on standby as the reserve assistant.
It will be Hategan’s second game of the tournament after he gave an assured and no-nonsense display in Northern Ireland’s opening 1-0 defeat by Poland in Nice on June 12 – in which he gave three yellow cards.
The trained doctor, from Arad, is known for his excellent communication with players on the field and can speak fluent English as well as his native Romanian tongue.
Hategan handled Italy’s 1-0 win in Malta during qualification but has never previously encountered the Republic of Ireland.
He also oversaw Scotland’s crucial 1-0 defeat to Georgia in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, as well as Manchester City’s goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League last 16 and Tottenham’s 3-0 Europa League success over Fiorentina last season.
Hategan has been officiating in the Champions League proper since 2011 and is one of 15 referees selected for the Olympic Games men’s football tournament later this summer.
The two countries also met in the third group game at Euro 2012 as Italy ran out 2-0 winners, with Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir sending off Irish midfielder Keith Andrews late on for two bookable offences.
Euro 2012 finalists Italy are already safely through to the knockout stage after wins over Belgium and Sweden, while Ireland have only taken a solitary point so far against the same opponents.
Elsewhere, Germany’s Felix Brych has been assigned to Wednesday night’s other Group E encounter between Sweden and Belgium in Nice (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV4).
The 40-year-old could have his work cut out in what is expected to be a competitive contest at the Stade de Nice between two sides aiming to seal their passage to the next phase of the tournament.
It will be Brych’s second Euro 2016 match after he ran the rule over England’s dramatic 2-1 win over Wales in Lens on June 16 – on what was his European Championship debut.
The financial lawyer, from Munich, only booked Wales defender Ben Davies and generally kept a lid on proceedings but refused England’s first-half penalty appeal after Davies appeared to handle in the box.
Mark Borsch and Stefan Lupp will again be his assistant referees, with Bastian Dankert and Marco Fritz as additional assistants.
Slovenia’s Matej Jug is the fourth official and compatriot Jure Prapotnik is the reserve assistant.
Brych’s biggest appointment to date was the 2014 Europa League Final between Sevilla and Benfica at the Juventus Stadium in Turin.
At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Brych sent off Uruguay defender Maxi Pereira in their 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica and cautioned six other players in two group games.
He oversaw Belgium’s 1-0 defeat to Wales in Cardiff during the qualification campaign and last encountered Sweden in their 2-1 friendly win over Serbia in June 2012.