Italy beat Spain in a fantastic four goal thriller at Under-21 European Championships


In the second Group A game, Italy faced Spain at the Renato Dall’Ara with both teams looking for a win after Poland spectacularly beat Belgium 3-2 in the opening game.

The hosts of the tournament kicked off the game and looked to get on the front foot straight away with seven players beyond the half-way line instantly after kick-off.

The first five minutes saw Spain hold control and play ‘keep-ball’ making the Italian players work to try and get possession back.

The host nation were stunned early on when a Fabian Ruiz pass set up Dani Ceballos who curled a fantastic shot into the top corner of the goal inside the first ten minutes of game making it 1-0 to Spain.

In the 13th minute a fantastic run by Ceballos made his way into the box with no one being able to get on the end of the midfielders pass.

The first quarter of an hour was mostly both sets of players contesting for the ball with fouls from Moise Kean and Arturo Calabrasi being committed on the Spanish players.

Dani Ceballos had been incredible in the opening 30 minutes with the midfielder playing the game of his life, topping it off with skilful passes and a goal inside ten minutes.

In the 32nd minute, a rare chance from Italy saw Rolando Mandragora’s shot go well over the bar.

Four minutes later, Italy got back level through Federico Chiesa who wriggled his way through the Spanish defence and unleashed a shot at the near post which went in making the score 1-1.

Italy had to make an early change with struggling Nicolo Zaniolo replaced by Riccardo Orsolini in the 42nd minute.

The referee blew for half-time with the score at 1-1. Both teams looked very strong in attack with Spain dominating possession and Italy looking to play through the wings and attack on the attack.

No substitutions were made for the Italian team at the start of the second-half with Ruiz coming off for Mikel Merino for the Spanish team.

In the 47th minute, Soler crossed the ball into the box but no one could connect due to the well-organised Italy defence.

In the 52nd minute, Kean broke with the ball after a mistake from the Spanish midfielders, causing the ball to bounce off Jorge Mere and Lorenzo Pellegrini reacting and seeing his shot blocked by the Spanish defence.

Not long after Soler did very well to control a poor pass on the edge of the area and fired his shot goal-wards, forcing Alex Meret to make a wonderful save.

In the 64th minute Italy took the lead. Chiesa yet again with a tidy finish from a Nicolo Barella pass making the score 2-1 to the host nation.

Spain had a great chance to possibly get an equaliser through a free-kick in the 72nd minute but it was cleared away from danger by goalkeeper Alex Meret.

Approaching the final ten minutes, Lorenzo Pellegrini sealed the game after slotting in a penalty to give Italy a 3-1 lead.

The referee blew for full-time and Italy now go to the top of Group A on goal difference with Poland also being on three points. Belgium and Spain find themselves at the bottom of the table after the first round of fixtures being played in the group.


Italy: Meret; Calabresi, Mancini, Bonifazi (Bastoni 88), Dimarco; Barella, Mandragora, Pellegrini; Zaniolo (Orsolini 42) , Kean (Cutrone 60), Chiesa

Spain: Simon: Aguirregabiria, Vallejo, Mere, Aaron; Zubeldia (Fornals 67), Fabian (Merino 46); Soler, Ceballos, Oyarzabal (Mir 85); Mayoral


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