Under-21 European Qualifiers. Party in Castel di Sangro as Italy start on the right footLuxembourg beaten 5-0 thanks to penalties from Locatelli and Kean before Sottil, Tumminello and Scamacca goals
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
The European Championship qualification campaign started on the right foot for the Italy Under-21 side. The stadium was sold out in Castel di Sangro with 5,000 spectators in attendance. Italy won 5-0 following on from the 4-0 victory over Moldova in the previous friendly.
The first goal of the qualifying campaign was scored by the captain Manuel Locatelli. Nine minutes in, the Sassuolo midfielder opened the scoring nine minutes in. The Azzurrini were clearly at home at the Stadio Teofilo Patini where they have previously drawn one game and won four. The last result was a 2-0 win over Lithuania in 2015 while Italy had won all ten of the previous ten matches against Luxembourg.
It was an opening match full of positives as the team was able to dominate and show great intelligence against a side that had come to defend above all.
20 minutes in, Pinamonti had a low shot that went wide. Luxembourg’s one real chance came in the 30th minute with a powerful Muratovic shot that Plizzari saved. In the 37th minute, Italy scored a second from the spot. Zaniolo picked Kean out and he was brought down. The Everton forward then stepped up to take it himself and send Machado the wrong way.
The first half ended with Italy on the attack and the second half started in the same way. Kean was replaced by Sottil at the break. The Azzurrini raised the tempo and dominated the match and looked dangerous whenever they went forward. In the 58th minute, Sala fired over from the left after going through on Machado.
Nicolato made a further two changes with Tumminello and Frattesi coming on for Zaniolo and Pinamonti. It was one of the substitutes, Riccardo Sottil, who made it 3-0 with a great right-foot shot that went in under the bar and it was his first Under-21 goal. In the 64th minute, Scamacca went close but Machado got his fingertips to it. There was nothing the Luxembourg goalkeeper could do though in the 68th minute to stop Tumminello’s tap-in.
Italy were in real control and the Coach took advantage by making another change with Zanellato coming on as Locatelli made way to applause. The fifth goal came in the 77th minute as Scamacca received the ball from Frattesi and struck home with power.
At the end, there was also time for Tripaldelli who replaced Sala in the 83rd minute.
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina was in attendance and very pleased following the whistle. “It’s been a great party, as always in this place that welcomes the national teams with great enthusiasm,” he said. “I’m happy at how the team has started this new journey, the Azzurri are back in fashion and we have to be proud of this. Disappointment form the past European Championship is in the past.”
Nicolato was also positive after the full-time whistle: “I saw a good Italy side even if we can and must improve,” he said. “In the first half, we lacked a bit of precision and we were better in the second half thanks to the addition of some fresh players. The spirit is the right one but the road is still very long. Kean’s substitution? I needed a player who could attack space and Sottil did very well.”