Nicolato takes after Mancini, another high-scoring affair in Sicily: a brace for Kean and a 6-0 win over ArmeniaPinamonti, Zanellato and Delprato all score their first goals for the Under-21s, with Scamacca also getting in on the act. The Head Coach: "The lads played well, it wasn't easy in these conditions"
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Mancini kicked things off, Nicolato brought things to an end in a similarly thrilling fashion. 24 hours after the senior side’s big win against Armenia in Palermo, the Under-21s replicated this performance as they ran out 6-0 winners against Armenia in a match which was pushed back by two and a half hours due to adverse weather conditions in Catania. Only at 19:30 CET did French referee Stephanie Frappart, who became the first ever female official to referee (well) a European final in the men’s game when Chelsea played Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup, give the go-ahead.
As was the case for his friend Zaniolo yesterday evening, Moise Kean also bagged a brace and put in a convincing performance this evening. Meanwhile, Pinamonti, Zanellato and Del Prato all scored for the first time for the Under-21s, while Scamacca continued his good form with a goal just seconds after coming off the bench. Although he didn’t find the net, Patrick Cutrone was one of the best players for an Italy side that has really produced the goods during their matches against Iceland and Armenia over the past few days. Despite their great win tonight, the Azzurrini remain second in their group following Ireland’s comeback victory over Sweden. Nevertheless, Nicolato’s men are just three points behind the Irish with two games in hand and they’ll be looking to move into top position at the end of March, when they’ll travel to Luxembourg and face Sweden at home.
“They’re lads with desire,” said a satisfied Nicolato after the match. “They always try to express themselves as well as they can and they did well given that it wasn’t easy to play in these conditions. We’ve only been together for a short period of time and will improve, we have weaknesses but also strengths. This evening, we took another step forward.” The Head Coach appreciated Kean’s performance (“I liked his spirit”) as he responded in the best possible fashion to the red card he picked up a month ago against Ireland. “The only thing I need to do is show a response out on the pitch,” the Everton striker said. “We played excellent football and need to continue in this manner. Do I hope to be called up to the senior side? Of course, it’s everyone’s dream.”
THE MATCH. Nicolato made three changes to the side which initially took to the pitch against Iceland. In defence, Del Prato partnered Ranieri in the centre with Adjapoing at right full-back and Sala on the left. In midfield, captain Locatelli lined up alongside Carraro and Zanellato, who came in for Maggiore. Joining Cutrone and Pinamonti in attack was Kean, who was back in place of Sottil after missing the Iceland match through suspension. Although the heavy pitch made it difficult to build from the back, Italy tried to keep the ball on the ground. Kean looked threatening early on as he looked to make the most of his pace. In the eighth minute, he picked out Pinamonti with a great ball, but the latter was denied by Aslanyan. After a quarter of an hour, the same two players combined for the Azzurrini’s opening goal: the Genoa man played the ball through and the Everton forward slotted the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs to make it 1-0. After Carnesecchi had shown great reactions to prevent Bichakhchyan from equalising, Italy doubled their lead. From provider to goalscorer: Pinamonti found the corner with his left foot to bag his first goal for the Under-21s after the ball had ended up at his feet following Sala’s scuffed shot.
The chances kept on coming: after 28 minutes, Grigoryan cleared off the line to stop Cutrone making it 3-0. However, despite their dominance, Italy did look slightly frail in defence and risked being cut open at times, something which perhaps sounds strange given that Nicolato’s boys are yet to concede during this qualifying campaign. Nevertheless, the Azzurrini looked superb up front. With 39 minutes on the clock, Aslanyan was on hand to keep out Pinamonti’s powerful strike, but it didn’t take much longer for Italy to score a third: after Aslanyan had failed to fully deal with Cutrone’s shot, Kean was left with an easy tap-in to well and truly put the game to bed before half-time.
As they looked for a fourth, Italy once again left Armenia with a bit too much space and Carnesecchi had to be alert to save Mkrtchyan’s close-range effort. In the 53rd minute, Niccolò Zanellato also scored his first Under-21 goal after Aslanyan had got his hands to yet another Cutrone shot. Nicolato then sent on Scamacca in Pinamonti’s place, with the substitution immediately paying off: the Ascoli forward finished off Cutrone’s cross with a brilliant header to make it 5-0. Del Prato then got in on the act as he found the net with a right-footed strike from distance. No further goals were scored as Italy finished 2019 with a 6-0 win. Following their disappointing elimination at the group stage of the European Championship on home turf, the Azzurrini have finished the year in the best possible way and can look to the future with optimism: EURO 2021 is now a step closer.
ITALY 6-0 ARMENIA
Goals: 15’ and 41’ Kean (I), 24’ Pinamonti (I), 53’ Zanellato (I), 57’ Scamacca (I), 66’ Del Prato (I)
ITALY: Carnesecchi; Adjapong, Del Prato, Ranieri (63’ Bettella), Sala (56’ Tripaldelli); Carraro, Zanellato (63’ Maistro), Locatelli (C) (83’ Maggiore); Cutrone, Kean, Pinamonti (56’ Scamacca). Substitutes: Plizzari, Esposito, Casale, Sottil. Head Coach: Paolo Nicolato.
ARMENIA: Aslanyan (71’ M. Grigoryan); E. Grigoryan, Daniielian, Khachumyan, Mkrtchyan (C) (71’ Vardanyan); Geghamyan; Melkonyan, Khamoyan (67’ Nalbandyan), Bichakhchyan, Movsesyan (58’ Sadoyan); Hovhannisyan (58’ Portugalyan) . Substitutes: Nazaryan, Misakyan, Asilyan. Head Coach: Antonio Lozano Flores.
Referee: Stephanie Frappart (FRA). Assistants: Mehdi Rahmouni (FRA) and Philippe Jeanne (FRA). Fourth official: Willy Delajod (FRA)
Notes: Movsesyan (A), Kkachumyan (A), Zanellato (I), Maistro (I) all booked