Wednesday October 10 2018
Italy: Azzurri held by Ukraine

Italy had a very strong first half and took the lead through Federico Bernardeschi, but were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine.

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This friendly was organised at Marassi to raise funds and awareness for those affected by the collapse of the Morandi bridge on August 14, leaving hundreds homeless. Play will be halted at the 43rd minute to remember the 43 people who died that day.

Roberto Mancini went into this friendly without injured Simone Zaza, Patrick Cutrone, Alessio Romagnoli and Danilo D’Ambrosio. He gave 21-year-old Cagliari midfielder Nicolò Barella his senior Italy debut, while Marco Verratti returned from a long lay-off. It was a new trident with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi alternating as False 9 with Federico Chiesa.

Italy had never lost to Ukraine, winning six of their seven previous meetings, scoring 14 goals and conceding only two.

Andriy Pyatov got down well in the fifth minute to palm away a Bernardeschi low curler from the edge of the box, then Chiesa should’ve passed to Insigne when pouncing on a misplaced pass and from the resulting corner Pyatov pushed a Leonardo Bonucci volley from 14 yards round the far post.

Insigne curled wide and Barella’s effort was fingertipped over the bar, then Chiesa’s snapshot was palmed round the past of the near stick.

There was a double chance just before half-time, as Insigne had moved to the left and cut inside for a right-foot curler, beaten away by Pyatov for a Barella volley that was deflected over.

The only real test Gianluigi Donnarumma faced was after Marlos dribbled past Barella.

Insigne’s free kick hit the wall after a strong Barella run and it started raining heavily in the second half. That might’ve contributed to the opening goal, as Bernardeschi’s snapshot from distance didn’t seem that dangerous, but Pyatov fumbled the stop and it rolled into the empty net.

However, it didn’t last long, as Donnarumma made his first genuine save on an angled drive and on the resulting corner Ruslan Malinovskyi saw his half-volley bounce in to the far bottom corner.

Barella’s cross floated just over Chiesa at the back stick, but Malinovskyi almost completed his brace with a ferocious free kick that bounced off the crossbar on 71 minutes, Donnarumma parrying the Taras Stepanenko follow-up header.

Viktor Tsygankov also drilled wide and Cristiano Piccini made his Italy debut, while Bonucci nodded a Cristiano Biraghi cross over.

Italy 1-1 Ukraine

Bernardeschi 54 (I), Malinovskyi 62 (U)

Italy: Donnarumma; Florenzi (Piccini 84), Bonucci, Chiellini, Biraghi (Criscito 87); Verratti (Bonaventura 70), Jorginho, Barella (Pellegrini 78); Bernardeschi (Immobile 56), Insigne (Berardi 78), Chiesa

Ukraine: Pyatov; Karavaev, Burda, Rakitskiy (Kryvstov 87), Matviyenko; Marlos (Tsyhankov 46), Zinchenko, Sydorchuk (Stepanenko 56), Malinovskyi, Konoplyanka (Petriak 72); Yaremchuk (Kravets 76)

Ref: Obrenovic (SLO)