Patrick Cutrone bagged a late brace after Riccardo Sottil’s opener, as Italy beat Iceland 3-0 to go second in their Under-21 European Championship group with a game in hand.
The Azzurrini leapfrog Iceland and are now on 10 points from four games, leaving behind their opponents on nine points from five. The Republic of Ireland lead Group 1 with 13 points, but have already played six matches.
Moise Kean was suspended, Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Zaniolo promoted to the senior squad, so there were changes at SPAL’s Stadio Paolo Mazza in Ferrara.
The first real chance was for the visitors on a long throw-in, as Jon Dagor Thorsteinsson curled from just inside the area and Atalanta’s Marco Carnesecchi was at full stretch to palm it out of the far bottom corner on 11 minutes.
Wolves forward Patrick Cutrone fought back immediately, but the snapshot was straight at the goalkeeper, but Iceland should’ve scored on a rapid counter-attack that sent Kolbeinn Finsson clear only to smash his strike on to the base of the upright.
It was wide open with neither midfield holding on to the ball for long periods. Riccardo Sottil rolled across for Marco Sala, forcing a tough save, but again Carnesecchi came to the rescue by sticking out a foot to parry Svein Aron Gudjohnsen’s effort from point-blank range.
The Azzurrini took the lead with a well-worked goal. Andrea Pinamonti knocked down Cutrone’s cross for Sottil to come sliding in at the far post.
Cutrone should’ve made it 2-0 within 30 seconds of the restart, but controlled it well only to curl wide of the far post from 12 yards.
Carnesecchi remained by far the busiest of the two goalkeepers, beating away a long-range Thordarson effort, but after the hour mark, Italy began to take more control.
Pinamonti drilled just wide, then Manuel Locatelli’s strike was charged down and Gianluca Scamacca almost tapped in after the goalkeeper fumbled Claud Adjapong’s cross.
The second goal finally arrived late on to seal the victory. Scamacca’s header was charged down at the back post, but Cutrone volleyed in the rebound from nine yards.
The Azzurrini were building momentum throughout the second half and the two strikers combined again for the third goal. Scamacca shrugged off a defender, rolled across and Cutrone curled a right-foot finish from the edge of the penalty area.
Iceland were increasingly irritable and, after a member of their staff was sent off from the bench, a brawl broke out at the final whistle between players.
Italy 3-0 Iceland
Sottil 33 (It), Cutrone 84, 90 (It)
Italy U21: Carnesecchi; Del Prato, Gabbia, Ranieri, Sala; Maggiore (Zanellato 80), Carraro (Maistro 93), Locatelli; Sottil (Adjapong 68), Pinamonti (Scamacca 80), Cutrone
Iceland U21: PS Gunnarsson; Sampsted, Leifsson, Palmason, H Gunnarsson; Thorsteinsson, W Willumsson, Finnsson (J Jonsson 80), Hauksson (B Willumsson 81); S Thordarson (K Thordarson 62), S Gudjohnsen (Ingimundarson 73)
Ref: Fesnic (ROU)
Image via @azzurri
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