Tuesday March 30 2021
U21 Euros: Italy book quarter-final spot

Patrick Cutrone scored twice and saw a penalty saved, as Italy beat Slovenia 4-0 to reach the European Under-21 Championship quarter-finals, but still managed another red card.

As Spain beat the Czech Republic 2-0, they top the group, with Italy going through in second place.

The Azzurrini had drawn 1-1 with the Czech Republic and 0-0 against Spain, ending both games down to nine men. Because of that, Gianluca Scamacca, Nicolò Rovella, Enrico Del Prato and Sandro Tonali were suspended, though Riccardo Marchizza and Matteo Gabbia returned from their bans. There were only five outfield players on the Italy bench.

The Nazionale needed a win to reach the quarter-finals, or a draw as long as the Czechs don’t beat Spain in the other group game.

Giulio Maggiore broke the deadlock, but it was at the end of a long move, which saw a Patrick Cutrone back-heel flick and a tricky save on Tommaso Pobega before the angled drive.

There is no VAR in this tournament, but Giacomo Raspadori seemed to be perfectly onside as he controlled a Luca Ranieri ball over the top with his heel and ran forward to sweep past the goalkeeper one-on-one for 2-0.

Davide Frattesi was brought down by Zan Zaletel for a penalty, which was converted by Cutrone into the near bottom corner, despite the goalkeeper guessing the right angle.

Aljosa Matko nearly got one back for Slovenia after shaking off Gabbia, but Atalanta-owned goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi again made an astonishing save from point-blank range with his foot, one of several in this tournament.

On the stroke of half-time, Raspadori’s inspired assist found Cutrone, who was brought down by Igor Vekic. Former Milan striker Cutrone went again, picked a different corner, but this time Vekic managed to save the penalty.

Former Milan striker Cutrone made up for it with a spectacular goal after the restart, smashing a scorcher into the top corner from distance.

Cutrone really should’ve completed his hat-trick when Frattesi rolled across from the right, but fired straight at the goalkeeper from point-blank range. He did better with a header on Gabriele Zappa’s whipped cross, although Vekic got to that too with a fine save.

It seems Italy cannot end a game in this competition without a red card, because Marchizza managed to get two yellows despite only coming off the bench at the 54th minute. Once again, it was a ridiculously soft decision, but he will be suspended for the quarter-final, especially as it was his second red card in two appearances. 

So will Juventus man Gianluca Frabotta, who received a yellow for a shove in the wall before a free kick was taken in stoppages.

Italy 4-0 Slovenia

Maggiore 10 (I), Raspadori 20 (I), Cutrone pen 25, 50 (I)

Italy U21: Carnesecchi; Lovato (Marchizza 54), Gabbia, Ranieri; Bellanova (Zappa 54), Frattesi, Pobega (Pirola 73), Maggiore, Sala; Raspadori (Colombo 73), Cutrone (Frabotta 87)

Slovenia U21: Vekic; Zinic, Brekalo (Stojinovic 46), Karic, Kolmanic (Ploj 81); Matko, Zaletel, Gnezda Cerin, Prelec (Svetlin 46); Elsnik (Petrovic 46), Medved (Celar 71)

Ref: Frankowski (POL)

Saved penalty: Cutrone 45 (I)

Sent off: Marchizza 82 (I)