Nazionale U21

Baldanzi and Esposito send Italy to victory in Bolzano over Norway

A 2-0 win in Turkey is backed up by the same result at Druso against the Norwegians thanks to two left-footed goals by the Empoli and Spezia forwards. Nunziata: "An excellent performance full of quality and intensity"

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Baldanzi and Esposito send Italy to victory in Bolzano over Norway

This time, it is Italy's turn to celebrate against Norway, after being knocked out of the Euros four months ago by them. The Under-21 National Team earned their second consecutive victory in Group A in this Euro 2025 qualifier: it ended 2-0 courtesy of goals from Tommaso Baldanzi and Francesco Pio Esposito (their first goals for the Under 21s) to send home Carmine Nunziata, who had called for a performance of quality and intensity against a team who had collected six points from six and scored 14 goals without conceding, and the 5,500 fans at Druso in Bolzano happy. Many local school children and young players from junior football clubs were in the stands watching on thanks to the collaboration of the National Team's Youth Sector and Schooling Department. Italy inflicted the Norwegians' first defeat and move to seven points in the table (behind Rep. of Ireland with nine) and, above all, kept a clean sheet for the third game running, following a 0-0 draw in Latvia and a 2-0 win in Turkey. 

"It was a great performance against a strong side," said Nunziata. "We had to keep our tempo high and win back many balls inside their own half. As the game wore on, Norway put us under pressure because they have a lot of quality going forward, but we deserved the win. When you play these types of fixtures in the group stages, every game is crucial. It was vital we got the three points today, and I congratulate the lads. Baldanzi and Esposito? They are two quality young players and I'm really happy they both scored." 

THE GAME. Nunziata lined up with ten of the starting eleven that won in Turkey in September; the only change made was Bove replacing Miretti, with Casadei in behind Baldanzi and Francesco Pio Esposito. Prior to kick-off, a minute was given to honour the victims of the attack in Brussels recently (Italy wearing black armbands). It was an even opening to the game, with the first chance falling to Mugisha, but he failed to hit the target. Italy had their first effort through Prati's right-footed shot from outside the box, which was stopped by Sjøeng. The deadlock was broken on 25 minutes when Baldanzi, after Bove had won back possession high up the pitch, beat Opsahl to the ball, shifted it to his left and placed it past Sjøeng, for what was Norway's first goal conceded this season. On 35 minutes, the same Baldanzi, from the left, put a ball into the box that Esposito was inches away from reaching; a few seconds later, there was a chance to double the lead through Ndour, but the PSG midfielder connected badly. Before the half-time break, another Norway defensive error gave Esposito an opportunity, but his left-footed shot was deflected behind off a defender for a corner, which eventually led to nothing. 

Italy only needed 22 seconds to find their, and the game's, second, which again came from the attacking duo Baldanzi-Esposito: the Empoli player setting up the Spezia striker, who thundered home with his left. Soon after, Baldanzi was forced to come off with a knock (a problem with his right ankle), being replaced by Oristanio, who 16 minutes into the half made Sjøeng work from a free-kick. A few minutes later, there was a massive chance for Hansen-Aarøen to give Norway a lifeline, but his right-footed effort from inside the 18-yard area deflected off Pirola and, subsequently, saved by the fingertips of Desplanches. Nunziata then brought on Fabbian and Miretti for Bove and Casadei, and Kayode and Calafiori for Zanotti and Esposito. Norway never really looked like getting back into it, and it was Italy in fact who looked the more threatening when Sjøeng made a superb save to keep out Oristanio. The Azzurrini are next back in action in November with two away trips: first to San Marino on Thursday 16 and then Ireland on Tuesday 21. 


Nazionale U21

Baldanzi-Esposito: a Bolzano tre punti d'oro per l'Italia di Nunziata

SCORERS: 5' Baldanzi, 46' P. Esposito

ITALY (4-3-1-2): Desplanches; Zanotti (87' Kayode), Coppola, Pirola, Ruggeri; Bove (72' Fabbian), Prati, Ndour; Casadei (72' Miretti); Baldanzi (57' Oristanio), P. Esposito (87' Calafiori). Unused subs: Zacchi, Ambrosino, Guarino, Bianco. Head Coach. Nunziata

NORVEGIA (3-4-3): Sjøeng; Løvik (77' Riisnæs), Opsahl, Hjelde; Zafeiris, Gulliksen (57' Oppegård), Arnstad, Møller Wolfe; Schjelderup (86' Nordås), Hansen-Aarøen, Mugisha. Unused subs: Tangvk, Hopland, Roaldsøy, Holm, Aasgaard, Karlsbakk. Head Coach. Jalland

REFEREE: Lardot (Belgium)
ASSISTANTS: Lemaire-Blaise (Belgium)
IV OFFICIAL: Put (Belgium)

NOTE: bookings: Coppola (I), Opsahl (N), Coppola (I), Schjelderup (N), Bove (I), Fabbian (I), Pirola (I)

Tuesday 17 October
Latvia 2-1 Turkey 
ITALY 2-0 Norway 

Table (games played in brackets): Rep. of Ireland (3) 9, ITALY (3) and Latvia (5) 7, Norway (3) 6), Turkey (4) 3, San Marino (4) 0


Thursday 16 November: San Marino vs. Italy
Tuesday 21 November: Republic of Ireland vs. Italy
Friday 22 March 2024: Italy vs. Latvia
Tuesday 26 March 2024: Italy vs. Turkey
Thursday 5 September 2024: Italy vs. San Marino
Tuesday 10 September 2024: Norway vs. Italy
Tuesday 15 October 2024: Italy vs. Republic of Ireland