Photograph by Danny Lewis
Sunday 18 June June 2017
Under 21 Euros Group Stage
Marshal Józef Piłsudski Stadium
Denmark U21 0-2 Italy U21
Italy U21: Pellegrini (54), Petagna (86)
The Group C opener was a hotly contested affair. Italy were on top for the majority but Denmark were resolute and hard to break down. However, when Lorenzo Pellegrini got the opener for the Italians this gave them a real foothold on the game as they scored another not long before full time.
This one got off to a slow start, with both sides feeling their way into the game. Italy had more of the ball, but Denmark’s defensive work was limiting them to snapshots and long range efforts in the early stages.
In the first half the Danes were able to keep Italy out, with Jeppe Højbjerg only really tested by a long range effort from Marco Benassi. Although Christian Nørgaard did get a booking as sacrifice.
The Danish would have been happy when the half time whistle went, as despite being under sustained pressure for long periods of the half they went into the break on level terms.
Italy really showed their intent early in the second half as they came flying out of the blocks. They had a few chances within the first five minutes, but some dogged defending from Denmark kept the scores level.
However, there was nothing they could do in the 54th minute when Pellegrini made the breakthrough for the Italians. There was a deep cross from Federico Bernadeschi, with Benassi beating Jacob Rasmussen to the initial header. Andreas Maxsø then failed to clear convincingly and was punished when Pellegrini produced a spectacular overhead kick to make it 1-0 to the Italians.
The goal gave Italy the impetus to go on and get a second as they really began to apply the pressure. Roberto Gagliardini and Federico Chiesa both had opportunities but were just unable to convert them.
Denmark were hanging onto hope of a comeback by the skin of their teeth and Kenneth Zohore almost pulled the game level, hitting the side netting. Frederik Holst picked up a booking trying to help his side get back into the game
However, with Italy’s dominance it seemed almost inevitable that they would add a second at some point and they did so in the 86th minute. Bernadeschi played a cross field ball to Chiesa who stepped inside Holst before putting in a low cross towards the edge of the six yard box. Andrea Petagna managed to beat his marker to the ball and guided it past the Danish goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
The final whistle blew shortly after this signaling the win for Italy. This result puts them drawn top in the group after Germany also won 2-0 in their match against Czech Republic. Italy play Czech Republic in their next match while Denmark face Germany.
PLAYER RATINGS (out of 10)
Højbjerg (6); Holst (5), Banggaard (6), Maxsø (6), Rasmussen (6); Christensen (7), Nørgaard (6); Hjulsager (6), L. Andersen (6) (Marcondes (N/A) 80), Børsting (6) (Duelund (6) 80); Ingvartsen (5) (Zohore (6) 72)
Italy U21 (4-3-3)
Donnarumma (7); Conti (8), Caldara (7), Rugani (7), Barreca (7); Benassi (7) (Grassi (6) 72) Pellegrini (8), Gagliardini (7); Berardi (7) (Chiesa (7) 67), Petagna (8) (Cerri (N/A 88) Bernadeschi (8)
MAN OF THE MATCH
The Italian would often switch between wings but he caused havoc for whoever he was up against and was a constant threat regardless of where he was on the pitch. His use of both direct running and quick accurate passing made him almost impossible to deal with. A lot of Italy’s dangerous attacks would go through the Fiorentina man and he he was involved in both of their goals.