U21: Italy and Germany go through

by | Jun 24, 2017 21:31

Federico Bernardeschi’s goal proved enough to beat Germany, but both of them went through to the European Under-21 Championship semi-final thanks to Denmark.

The Azzurrini started the tournament as one of the favourites, but their 3-1 defeat to the Czech Republic meant they had to win tonight and hope Denmark took points off the Czechs in order to reach the semi-finals. Another option would be to win by scoring at least three goals and with a two-goal cushion. As it turned out, the already-eliminated Danes emerged with a 4-2 result.

Federico Bernardeschi’s goal proved enough to beat Germany, but both of them went through to the European Under-21 Championship semi-final thanks to Denmark.

The Azzurrini started the tournament as one of the favourites, but their 3-1 defeat to the Czech Republic meant they had to win tonight and hope Denmark took points off the Czechs in order to reach the semi-finals. Another option would be to win by scoring at least three goals and with a two-goal cushion. As it turned out, the already-eliminated Danes emerged with a 4-2 result.

Italy will face Spain in the semi-final on Tuesday June 27 without suspended Domenico Berardi and Andrea Conti.

Andrea Petagna was dropped and Federico Chiesa brought in for a 4-4-2 formation without recognised centre-forward. Germany had won both group games and the only way both sides would go through would be with a 3-1 Italy victory due to goal difference with Slovakia.

Marc-Oliver Kempf had the ball in the net after six minutes, but teammate Niklas Stark was flagged offside on the free kick, so the German goal was disallowed.

Marco Benassi’s header on an Andrea Conti cross was too close to the goalkeeper, whose gloves were stung by a ferocious long-range Lorenzo Pellegrini strike.

Federico Bernardeschi curled a free kick just wide after Mattia Caldara was brought down, having nutmegged Mahmoud Dahoud, but news filtered through that Denmark were winning against the Czech Republic, though Patrik Schick equalised moments later.

Italy did break through when Chiesa pressed Dahoud into making a mistake on the back-pass and Bernardeschi kept his cool to prod past the on-rushing goalkeeper. A shoving match broke out during the celebrations with Domenico Berardi and Maximilian Arnold both booked but this was the first goal conceded by Germany in the competition.

Conti and Berardi were among those in the book, meaning they’d be suspended if Italy progressed to the semi-final. At half-time, with Denmark beating the Czechs 2-1 in the other game, both the Azzurrini and Germany would go through.

Mitchell Weiser fired wide from distance, but Julian Pollersbeck got down for a great fingertip save to deny Pellegrini’s daisy-cutter on a Bernardeschi assist.

The Czech Republic equalised for 2-2, leaving everything on a knife edge, but at the 73rd minute Denmark restored their lead against the run of play.

Conti failed to turn in from point-blank range, but his blushes were saved by the offside flag on a magnificent Bernardeschi cross with the outside of the left boot.

Stark made a decisive block in the six-yard box to intercept a wonderful team move, but in the final five minutes Germany also realised these results would send both of them through and passed the ball around calmly, while Denmark won 4-2 elsewhere.

Italy 1-0 Germany

Bernardeschi 31 (I)

Italy U21: Donnarumma; Conti, Rugani, Caldara, Barreca; Chiesa (Petagna 77), Gagliardini, Pellegrini, Benassi; Berardi (Locatelli 85), Bernardeschi

Germany U21: Pollersbeck; Toljan, Stark, Kempf, Gerhardt; Arnold, Dahoud (Jung 72); Weiser (Amiri 75), Meyer (Philipp 67), Gnabry; Selke

Ref: Vincic (SVN)

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