Italy’s Under-21 side secured a 2-0 victory in Northern Ireland with goals from Daniele Rugani and Brentford’s Marcello Trotta.
This was a must-win game for the Azzurrini, who were in third place in European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 9. The build-up was affected by injuries to Andrea Belotti and Matteo Bianchetti, while Domenico Berardi was frozen out after breaking the code of ethics for a red card.
Livorno goalkeeper Francesco Bardi had the first save to make on Carl Winchester, but Italy increased the pressure before half-time with a series of attempts parried from Federico Viviani, Cristian Battocchio and Federico Bernardeschi.
The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour mark when Empoli defender Daniele Rugani got his head to Viviani’s free kick.
Comi had the chance to double their lead charged down and Viviani couldn’t find the target.
Brentford striker and Italy Under-21 debutant Marcello Trotta secured the points in the final minute by getting on the end of an assist from substitute Jacopo Dezi.
This result takes Italy up to 12 points from six games.
Northern Ireland 0-2 Italy
Scorers: Rugani 59 (I), Trotta 89 (I)
Northern Ireland U21: Brennan; Donnelly, McCullough, Sendles-White; Winchester, McGeehan (Nolan 62), Clucas (McNair 77), Conlan; Lavery; Millar (Gray 66), Brobbell
Italy U21: Bardi; Sabelli, Ceccherini, Romagnoli, Murru; Cataldi, Viviani; Molina (Trotta 56), Battocchio, Comi (Dezi 73); Bernardeschi (De Col 85)
Ref: Kabakov (BUL)