Antonio Candreva converted a penalty and assisted Daniele De Rossi’s header as Italy beat Finland 2-0 in their pre-Euro 2016 friendly.
There were more changes for the last friendly ahead of Euro 2016 at the Stadio Bentegodi in Verona, as Simone Zaza, Ciro Immobile, Marco Parolo and Salvatore Sirigu stepped in. With Stephan El Shaarawy it was a 3-4-3 formation in attack, moving to 3-5-2 when defending.
These sides had met 12 times with 10 Azzurri victories, a 0-0 draw in 1975 and a single Finnish win during the 1912 Olympics. The Scandinavians had held Italy’s group rivals Belgium to a 1-1 draw last week.
Simone Zaza got a rare start and was lively, forcing the first save with a shot from outside the box and glancing a header wide, then his back-heel flick set up Ciro Immobile for an effort wide.
Antonio Candreva was tripped by Chievo midfielder Perparim Hetemaj for a penalty, which the Lazio midfielder coolly converted with the inside of the right boot.
El Shaarawy blasted over and Zaza had a strike charged down, but Italy really need to work on their set play routines.
Thiago Motta looked very tired when replaced on 63 minutes and was jeered by the Verona crowd. Daniele De Rossi made an immediate impact in his place, providing a chipped ball over the top and through pass for El Shaarawy that forced a crucial Arajuuri tackle. The Little Pharaoh also had a half-volley deflected wide.
De Rossi proved his remarkable impact by scoring a goal, getting in front of his marker for a glancing header at the near post on Candreva’s cross.
Zaza was earning applause from the crowd for his immense work-rate and getting back to defend. He went close to a goal, but had a shot parried from point-blank range and a cheeky lob from midfield off target.
Deep into stoppages, Alessandro Florenzi went on the counter to send Immobile clear, but his first touch was poor and he fired straight at the goalkeeper.
Italy 2-0 Finland
Scorers: Candreva pen 27 (I), De Rossi 71 (I)
Italy: Sirigu; Barzagli, Bonucci (Ogbonna 85), Chiellini; Candreva (Bernardeschi 75), Parolo, Thiago Motta (De Rossi 63), Giaccherini (Sturaro 63), El Shaarawy (Florenzi 69); Zaza (Pellè 81), Immobile
Finland: Hradecky; Toivio, Arajuuri, Halsti; Arkivuo, Ring (Lam 73), Sparv, Hetemaj, Uronen (Raitala 73); Pukki (Lod 46), Eremenko
Ref: Nijhuis (NED)