Italy Under-21 star Lorenzo Pellegrini hit back at criticism from Spain and insists “they really ought to be learning from us.”
The Azzurri fought back from an early Dani Ceballos stunner to win 3-1 in the European Under-21 Championship opener last night.
After Spain captain Jesus Vallejo called Italy players “very dirty” and claimed Arturo Calabresi should’ve been sent off just 11 minutes in, Pellegrini hit back in today’s Press conference.
“The Spanish players have to understand that there is physical contact in football. Last night, many of them were exaggerating contact.
“Hats off to them when talking about technical quality, but for everything else, they really ought to be learning from us.”
Spain weren’t happy with the penalty either, as Pellegrini was brought down and then converted to make it 3-1.
“I was convinced it was so clear that the referee would blow the whistle even without the need for VAR. It’s true, the foul began outside the box, but I kept going for a few more metres in the hope I could still reach Riccardo Orsolini’s cross.
“There are three penalty takers in the squad, it’s me and Federico Dimarco first, then Orsolini. I felt ready and so I took it.”
Federico Chiesa stepped up a gear just before half-time to turn the game around with a brace.
“He is a great lad and his performances speak for him. Yesterday, he had the attitude of a real leader, a warrior. I congratulated him afterwards.”
Pellegrini and Chiesa will need to be right back on their feet for Tuesday evening’s clash with Poland, hoping to seal up qualification before facing Belgium.
“We are certainly in better shape now at Under-21 level than we were two years ago, but if we lose tomorrow against Poland, then everything changes again, so we must remain concentrated.
“We are a little more confident now and it’s good that at half-time against Spain we told each other the important thing was to keep playing our football, whatever happened.
“It was a real step forward, but if we don’t win the next game, it’ll feel futile.”
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