Italy Under-21s dominated possession, but were defeated 2-1 by Sweden, with Stefano Sturaro seeing red in the second half.

Luigi Di Biagio’s side kicked off their European Championships campaign in Olomouc, and came close to scoring the goal of the tournament after just two minutes.

Federico Viviani’s outswinging corner found Domenico Berardi on the edge of the box, and the Sassuolo forward unleashed a vicious volley, which was goalbound until the intervention of a Swedish defender.

Italy Under-21s dominated possession, but were defeated 2-1 by Sweden, with Stefano Sturaro seeing red in the second half.

Luigi Di Biagio’s side kicked off their European Championships campaign in Olomouc, and came close to scoring the goal of the tournament after just two minutes.

Federico Viviani’s outswinging corner found Domenico Berardi on the edge of the box, and the Sassuolo forward unleashed a vicious volley, which was goalbound until the intervention of a Swedish defender.

Italy were dominating the ball, but struggled to break down their opponents’ defence, despite Berardi’s probing runs inside from the right wing.

Typically, it was the Neroverdi striker’s contribution which led to the breakthrough. His perfectly weighted pass unleashed Andrea Belotti, who was taken down in the box by Alexander Milosevic.

The defender was shown the red card, and Berardi stepped up to calmly dispatch the spot kick into the bottom right of the goal.

Going down to 10 men actually seemed to galvanise Sweden, who began to press forward with more conviction, and Italy looking to hit on the break, with intelligent running from Beradi, Belotti and Cristian Battocchio.

There were no further goalscoring chances, however, and the Azzurrini carried a well-earned lead into the break.

Udinese have been linked with a move for John Guidetti, who spent last season at Celtic, and he showed what he can do by grabbing the equaliser.

Stefano Sturaro failed to clear from a corner, and Oscar Lewicki turned the ball back into the box, with Guidetti showing all his poaching nous to turn the ball home.

Where previously Italy had looked cool and comfortable in possession, now they appeared nervous, failing to connect with simple passes, with Sturaro and Federico Viviani particularly guilty.

Battocchio was withdrawn, with Empoli’s Simone Verdi introduced in an attempt to provide more width against the opponent’s narrow shape.

Sweden appeared happy to settle for a draw, with the Azzurrini dominating the ball, but failing to muster many shots on Patrik Carlgren’s goal through a wall of yellow shirts.

Their cause was not helped when Sturaro decided to even up the teams, with 80 minutes on the clock.

The Juventus midfielder was fouled by Mikael Ishak, and then had the ball smashed off his back. The red mist descended, and Sturaro struck Ishak in the face, leaving the Czech referee with no choice but to send him off.

Ishak was at the centre of things again five minutes later, winning a penalty for his side. The striker broke into the box, with Francesco Bardi rashly coming off his line to challenge him.

The Randers FC striker was too quick, nicking the ball away from the ‘keeper’s despairing dive and winning a clear penalty.

Isaac Thelin stepped up for a high-pressure spot kick, but kept his cool to send Bardi the wrong way and hand his side the victory.

Italy Under-21s: Bardi; Zappacosta, Bianchetti, Rugani, Sabelli; Sturaro, Viviani, Baselli (Cataldi, 68); Berardi, Belotti (Trotta), Battocchio (Verdi, 60)

Sweden Under-21s: Carlgren; Baffo, Milosevic, Helander, Augustinsson; Khalili, Lewicki, Hiljemark, Larsson (Lindelof, 45); Guidetti (Ishak), Thelin

Sent off: Milosevic 27 (S), Sturaro 80 (I)

Bygaby

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