Nazionale U18

U18: Italy edge out Serbia in first friendly win through Esposito’s great goal

A good collective performance by the Azzurrini, who played at a good tempo. The lead came with 20 minutes to go, thanks to Esposito's cheeky backheel. Bruno hit the woodwork twice. Italy played wearing black armbands in memory of the victims of the flooding in Marche

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

U18: Italy edge out Serbia in first friendly win through Esposito’s great goal

At the 'Gran Sasso d'Italia', Italy came out on top in the first friendly, winning by a narrow 1-0 margin against their Serbian counterparts thanks to a fine finish by Esposito. It was certainly a challenging contest against a squad largely made up from the players that reached the Under-17  European semifinals in Israel (losing to Holland on penalties). The winning goal came in the 72nd minute thanks to a nice backheel by Inter forward Esposito, the youngest of three brothers who have all played a leading role in the Azzurri line-up in years gone by. Kevn Bruno made a fine pass from the edge of the area to set up the Azzurri winner, but he was less fortunate in front of goal, hitting both the post and the crossbar.

Italy played with black armbands and before kick-off, a minute's silence was observed to remember the victims of the floods that hit the Marche region.

The Match: Franceschini fielded a 4-3-1-2 system, Magro in goal, a defensive line of Serra, Domanico, Diop and Saiani; Ripani in front of the defence with Parravicini and Graziani ether side of him and Bruno tucked in behind the two strikers Esposito and Owusu. Italy got off to a strong start, imparting a good rhythm on the game by exploiting the penetrating runs of fullbacks, Serra and Saiani, who joined the attack on numerous occasions and fed a large number of balls into the box. Bruno did a good job of trying to free Esposito and Owusu, but the Azzurrini produced a lot but achieved little. The Serbians countered well and played a more defensive game than looking to construct attacking moves, except in the last five minutes of the first half when Milosevic came close to scoring with a header from close range but Magro saved well.

The first half ended goalless. Italy started the second half immediately on the front foot with Bruno who, inside the area, unleashed a right-footed shot that skimmed the post to Lijeskic's right. Serbia responded straight away with their danger man, Milosevic, who called Magro into action with a shot from 25 yards out. The match maintained a good rhythm, with frequent shifts in momentum; Franceschini replaced Serra, Saiani and Owusu with the fresh legs of Palestra, Milani and Bolzan, whilst his fellow coach Krivokapic did the same, making two substitutions. Shortly after, in the 72nd minute, Italy took the lead: Graziani skipped past his opposite number and put a ball into the centre that was met by Esposito who flicked it into the Serbian net with his heel. The finish was spot on, and the goal was celebrated by all of the Inter striker's teammates. At this point, the Azzurrini took control of the game: Palestra put in a cross from the right, and after a few deflections in the Serbian penalty area, Bruno's left-footed shot hit the crossbar. It was a brilliant hit by the Sassuolo trequartista who, after hitting the woodwork twice, really deserved better luck.

Satisfied with his team's performance, Daniele Franceschini commented after the match: "You are always happy after a victory, especially if it is well-deserved. The boys showed character, toughness, and were calm under pressure. We have started our journey well even if there are things to improve on. Esposito's goal was beautiful, as was Graziani's assist. When you create chances it makes it easier to win," concluded the Azzurro coach.

Italy record a win in their first friendly and now prepare for the second one which takes place on Saturday at 14.30 CEST, again at L'Aquila.

Italia-Serbia 1-0

Goals: Esposito (72’)

ITALY (4-3-1-2) : Magro; Serra (59' Palestra), Domanico (C) (76' D'Avino), Diop, Saiani (59' Milani); Parravicini, Ripani, Graziani (76' Nuamah); Bruno (88' Rosetti); Esposito (88' Presta), Owusu (59' Bolzan [C]).
Unused: Borriello, Calligaris, Romani, Bovo, Quieto, Delle Monache. Coach: Franceschini.

SERBIA (3-4-1-2) : Lijeskić; Simić (79' Vojvodić), Majstorović (62' Stojanović), Serafimović; Djekić (79' Nedeljkovic), Vukičević, Stanković (C) (85' Aleksić), Bukinac (79' Kovačev [C]); Džodić (62' Radonjić); Milošević (79' Simin), Bubanj (79' Ivić). Unused: Mirosavić, Mitrović (GK), Vasiljević. Coach: Krivokapić.

Referee: Gabriele Scatena. Assistants: Pierpaolo Chiarella and Luca Chiavaro; Fourth official: Giorgio Di Cicco.

Bookings: Simić, Milani, Esposito, Ripani.

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