Nicolato ‘very proud’ of Azzurrini

Coach Paolo Nicolato is ‘very proud’ to reach the European Under-21 Championship quarter-final and tells off his Italy players for not ‘understanding’ the referees after another red card.

The Azzurrini needed a victory over Slovenia to be sure of reaching the quarter-finals and they had it locked down before half-time with Giulio Maggiore, Giacomo Raspadori and Patrick Cutrone goals.

Coach Paolo Nicolato is ‘very proud’ to reach the European Under-21 Championship quarter-final and tells off his Italy players for not ‘understanding’ the referees after another red card.

The Azzurrini needed a victory over Slovenia to be sure of reaching the quarter-finals and they had it locked down before half-time with Giulio Maggiore, Giacomo Raspadori and Patrick Cutrone goals.

Cutrone also had a penalty saved, but added a great strike into the top corner after the break for the final 4-0 result.

It was sorely needed, considering Italy had drawn both games against the Czech Republic and Spain.

“The staff has worked so hard over the last two years, using over 60 players during a very difficult period,” Nicolato told RAI Sport.

“We won nine, drew three and lost one, so we are above all happy with the way that we achieved this qualification.

“We’ve gone through many difficulties during the last two years, so we feel very proud. I’ve achieved some good results, but this in particular makes me very proud indeed.”

However, Italy managed to receive yet another red card, this time a double booking for Riccardo Marchizza, their fifth in just three group games.

“I have already said what I thought about the red cards and tonight was the same. I am disappointed for the lad, but evidently this is the approach the referees are taking in this tournament and it’s our mistake not to realise it.”

Sandro Tonali, Gianluca Scamacca and Enrico Del Prato were suspended, while Tonali, Marchizza and Gianluca Frabotta will sit out bans for the quarter-final in May.

There were only five outfield players on the bench this evening.

“It was genuinely difficult to put together a starting XI tonight. Only the work ethic of these lads could cover the gaps, as the squad was down to the bare bones.

“We are happy to be here, as with everything we’ve been through over the last two years, it was by no means to be taken for granted. Now we’ll find out who we are playing.”

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