Nazionale U21

Seven goals and three points in San Marino: Azzurrini top Group A

Nunziata’s boys found their third consecutive victory in Serravalle and kept their fourth clean sheet in a row. Gnonto’s brace, Pirola, Volpato, Fabbian, Esposito and Bianco also all on the scoresheet. The coach: “We were a team”

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Seven goals and three points in San Marino: Azzurrini top Group A

For at least 24 hours, Italy top Group A. The Under 21 National Team overcame San Marino 7-0, collecting their third consecutive victory on their journey towards qualification for the 2025 European Championships and keeping their fourth clean sheet in a row. Carmine Nunziata’s team now have 10 points, one more than Ireland who face Norway on Friday and then the Azzurrini on Tuesday (18:30 CET in Cork). Italy had pretty much sealed victory in the first half thanks to goals from Lorenzo Pirola (Salernitana) and Willy Gnonto’s (Leeds) brace. In the second half, Cristian Volpato (Sassuolo), Giovanni Fabbian (Bologna), Francesco Pio Esposito (Spezia) from the spot and Alessandro Bianco (Reggiana) also all got on the scoresheet. 

“We were a team, we didn’t concede many counters,” analysed Nunziata. “This is what I wanted. The important thing was the approach: there’s no such thing as easy or difficult games, there are only games that we can play to the best of our capabilities. I knew that San Marino would sit back, I wanted quality in the final third and that’s why I chose Volpato, who had an excellent performance. Some players had to leave for physical issues but this group has value.” 

THE MATCH. Despite being without Kayode, Ruggeri and Baldanzi who couldn’t even make it to the camp whilst Oristanio, Colombo and Miretti had to leave the camp in the last few days, Nunziata stuck to his 4-3-1-2 from the start, with Volpato behind Esposito and Gnonto. Prati at the base of midfield with Casadei and Ndour on either side of him; in defence, Calafiori played at left-back with Zanotti on the opposite flank and Ghilardi and Pirola in front of Desplanches. Italy started strong, hitting the crossbar through Volpato after Gnonto’s assist; shortly after, Casadei’s shot was deflected from a corner. Pirola rose highest from the corner and put the Azzurrini one up. 

Italy dominated the pitch but were slightly off-rhythm: on the wings, however, Volpato’s left-footed effort stopped by Amici whilst Casadei’s header went wide from Calafiori’s cross before Gnonto found the equaliser at the half-hour mark. Calafiori crossed and there was a goal-mouth scramble before Gnonto found the net. Once again, in the 39th minute, it was Gnonto who hit the target for 3-0: Esposito touched it into Gnonto’s path and he finished with aplomb. Volpato had another chance before the break but Giambalvo managed a last-gasp block on the line. 

The forward from Sassuolo found the goal 40 seconds into the second half though, thanks to Calafiori’s assist. Turicchia and Fabbian replaced Zanotti and Casadei at the start of the second half. The fifth goal came in the 53rd minute, Calafiori at the heart of things again, crossing it towards Fabbian, his Bologna teammate. Italy’s sixth came from the spot as Esposito calmly finished following Matteoni’s foul on Gnonto. Italy came close to finding the seventh, until finally finding it seven minutes from the end with Bianco’s left-footed effort from the Bianco, who celebrated his Under 21 debut in the best possible way. 


Nazionale U21

Sette volte Italia: goleada degli Azzurrini a San Marino

SCORERS: 5'  Pirola, 31' e 39' Gnonto, 46' st Volpato, 53' Fabbian, 62' rig. Esposito, 83' Bianco 

SAN MARINO (3-5-2): Amici; Giambalvo (60' Zavoli), Matteoni, Pasolini; Giocondi, Rastelli (80' Dolcini), Zannoni, Toccaceli (70' Gasperoni), Contadini (71' Benvenuti); Sensoli, Famiglietti (60' Santi). Subs: Battistini, Sancisi, Renzi, Pasolini. Coach: Cecchetti

ITALIA (4-3-1-2): Desplanches; Zanotti (46' Turicchia), Ghilardi, Pirola (63' Guarino), Calafiori; Casadei (46' Fabbian), Prati (57' Bianco), Ndour; Volpato; Gnonto (73' Ambrosino), Esposito. Subs: Zacchi, Coppola, Koleosho, Fazzini. Coach: Nunziata

REFEREE: Hyytiä (Finland)
ASSISTANTS: Nykänen-Leppänen (Finland)
IV OFFICIAL: Munukka (Finland)

NOTE: booking Matteoni (SM)

Thursday 16 November
San Marino 0-7 Italy
Friday 17 November
18:00 CET: Norway vs. Ireland
Tuesday 21 November

17.45 CET: Turkey vs. Norway
18.30 CET: Ireland vs. Italy (Cork)

Standings (games played):
ITALY (4) 10, Ireland (3) 9, Latvia (5) 7, Norway (3) 6, Turkey (4) 3, San Marino (4) 0

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

The Schedule

Friday 17 November
11:00 CET: training at Stadio Todoli in Cervia (closed)
14:00 CET: player's press conference (Zoom and in person)

Saturday 18 November
15:00 CET: Training at Stadio Macrelli in San Mauro Pascoli (open to the press)

Sunday 19 November
10.30 CET: Chartered flight Bologna-Cork and transfer to Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork
18.30 CET: Training (open to the press)

Monday 20 November
12:00 CET: Nunziata press conference (Zoom and in person)
18.30 CET: training at Turner's Cross Stadium in Cork (first 15' open to the media) 

Tuesday 21 November
18.30 CET: Ireland vs. ITALY ('Turner's Cross Stadium, Cork)

press conference and return to Italy to follow