Thursday March 22 2018
U21: Azzurrini held by Norway

The Italy Under-21 side wasted numerous chances, hit the woodwork twice and were held to a 1-1 friendly draw by Norway.

This was the first game for Coach Alberico Evani, who was promoted from the Under-20 side after Gigi Di Biagio took the role of Interim senior Italy boss. Davide Calabria was out injured, while Milan teammate Patrick Cutrone was bumped up to the senior side.

Benevento winger Vittorio Parigini almost scored within five minutes, his curling cross-shot from outside the box bouncing off the base of the far post.

Daniele Verde of Hellas Verona also drilled just wide of the upright, but Alessandro Murgia missed a sitter when the Lazio youth product was sent clear by a through ball and prodded off target.

Despite this domination, the Azzurrini almost gifted a goal with Giuseppe Pezzella’s error, but he made up for it with a last-ditch challenge on Bjordal.

Rolando Mandragora just failed to get on the end of an inviting Verde ball that flashed across the face of goal.

With all these wasted chances, Italy ended up going behind to an avoidable goal, as Alex Meret allowed a Bjordal cross to go past everyone and bounce into the far bottom corner.

Luca Vido came off the bench and promptly found the back of the net a minute later. A loose ball from Luca Valzania in the box was steered precisely into the far top corner off the inside of the right boot from 12 yards.

Vido went close again, his header over the bar, then Nicolo Barella very nearly replicated the goal, but found the underside of the bar.

Meret made up for the howler on the goal by denying another with a flying save to deny a smart volley at the near stick.

Alberto Cerri also forced a great reaction parry from close range, but his header was too close to the goalkeeper.

At least the Azzurrini’s attitude couldn’t be faulted in this friendly, because in the final minute Barella got into a shoving match with the Norwegian players over their time-wasting tactics.

Italy 1-1 Norway

Bjordal 60 (N), Vido 66 (I)

Italy U-21: Meret; Dickmann (Adjapong 89), Romagna, Mancini, Pezzella (Dimarco 56); Barella, Mandragora, Murgia (Valzania 56); Verde (Edera 56), Cerri (Palombi 89), Parigini (Vido 65)

Norway U-21: Bratveit; Hanche-Olsen, Knudsen, Espejord, Risa; Johnsen, Nasberg, Ingebrigtsen, Ryerson; Thorsby; Bjordal

Image via @vivo_azzurro

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