NEWS
Thursday March 21 2019
U21: Audero decisive with Austria

Goalkeeper Emil Audero was Italy’s best performer in a 0-0 friendly draw with Austria, as there were worrying defensive lapses.

The Azzurrini continue to warm up and perform tactical tests ahead of this summer’s European Under-21 Championship, which will be hosted by Italy and San Marino. Gigi Di Biagio’s men will be in the same group as Spain, Belgium and Poland. Today’s friendly opponents Austria will take on Germany, Serbia and Denmark. Emil Audero was in goal, as Alex Meret was suffering from flu symptoms.

Federico Bonazzoli wasted a golden opportunity in the opening minute after Riccardo Orsolini’s shot turned into an assist, while Orsolini’s volley flashed just wide and Alessandro Murgia’s effort was deflected past the post.

However, Kevin Bonifazi gave the ball away foolishly to spark a counter in midfield and Mathias Honsak hesitated, his angled drive skimming the far post with Sandi Lovric sliding in.

Audero needed a desperate save to deny Sascha Horvath from close range on a smart Maximilian Ullmann roll across from the left flank. The Sampdoria goalkeeper then got down for a great one-handed save at the near post on Honsak, as defensive errors piled up and Italy’s initial intensity dissipated.

Manuel Locatelli drilled just wide after the restart, but Horvath fired over after a series of Austrian crosses and shots were charged down in a goalmouth scramble.

Only a decisive Dario Maresic block from point-blank range prevented Murgia from scoring at the back stick, but Audero had to rush off his line to clear after Patrick Schmidt pounced on a shocking Rolando Mandragora back-pass.

Italy’s best chance of the match came in the final minutes. Vittorio Parigini broke away from a tackle down the left and rolled across the six-yard box, but both Cutrone and Luca Valzania dived in, failing to get the decisive touch.

Deep into stoppages, Austria also threatened, as a free kick found Kevin Danso’s header off target.

Italy 0-0 Austria

Italy U21: Audero; Calabria (Adjapong 81), Bonifazi (Romagna 81), Luperto, Pezzella (Dimarco 69); Mandragora, Locatelli (Tonali 81), Murgia (Valzania 69); Orsolini (Parigini 58), Cutrone, Bonazzoli (Moncini 69)

Austria U21: Schlager; Ingolitsch, Maresic, Ljubicic, Ullmann; Ljubic (Kalajdzic 63), Danso; Lovric, Honsak (Friedl 77), Horvath (Kvasina 81); Grbic (Schmidt 61)

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