Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | ePaper

Barella, Kean get Italy off the mark in Euro 2020 qualifiers

  • Print


Nicolo Barella and Moise Kean scored in either half to get the new-look Italy off to a winning start in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier with a 2-0 victory over Finland in Udine on Saturday.
Barella, 22, rifled in on seven minutes with 19-year-old Kean marking his first start by doubling the Azzurri's account in the 74th minute, to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Stadio Friuli in north-eastern Italy.
"It wasn't easy because they closed down immediately, changing the way they play and putting five defenders," said Italy coach Roberto Mancini.
"We made some mistakes early on, but did far better in the second half and created many more scoring opportunities.
"Kean has quality, enormous potential and it all depends on him, he has to work hard."
Italy are rebuilding under coach Mancini after the four-time world champions' shock failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
And the former Manchester City manager's first task is to get them through to the finals of the European championships, a tournament which the footballing giants have won just once, 51 years ago.
Italy, now 18th in the FIFA rankings, are favourites in a Group J which also includes Armenia, Bosnia and Liechtenstein.
Mancini's side had been hit by injuries to forwards Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne with Alessandro Florenzi also on the injury list.
Kean became the first player born after 2000 to start for Italy.
The teenager formed a three-man strike-force alongside fellow Juventus forward Federico Bernardeschi and Ciro Immobile.
Kean's only previous appearance had come as a second-half substitute last November in a friendly against the United States. But it was midfielder Barella who broke through minutes into the game after the Finnish defence failed to clear a Marco Verratti free-kick.
Cagliari player Barella pounced to rifle in a low volley, leaving Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky with no chance.
Cristiano Piccini hit the side netting after a one-two with Kean, with Bernardeschi having a penalty appeal denied just before half-time.
Teemu Pukki missed a chance to equalise in the 65th minute, meeting a Robin Lod cross but firing wide in front of goal to the frustration of the small contingent of visiting fans.
But the Azzurri doubled their lead midway through the second half with Lazio's Immobile bursting through midfield to set up Kean, who made no mistake, racing forward to slot in his first international goal.
Serie A top-scorer Fabio Quagliarella came on for the last ten minutes for the 36-year-old's first cap in over eight years to thundering applause from the crowd.
The Sampdoria striker has scored 21 goals in 28 Serie A games, two more than Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
And the veteran was twice denied a dream return with Hradecky saving, and minutes later his goal-bound effort clipping the post.
"It's a pity that it was almost the perfect dream," said Quagliarella. "But there was a save and then I hit the bar. I had two chances, it's a shame they didn't go in."
Roma teenager Nicolo Zaniolo, 19, also got his first cap when he came on for the last five minutes.
Italy -- European champions in 1968 and runners-up in 2000 and 2012 -- keep their unbeaten run in qualifiers going back nearly 13 years, with 25 wins and six draws.
Mancini's side play their second qualifier against Liechtenstein in Parma on Tuesday, with 59th-ranked Finland travelling to Armenia.

More News For this Category

Suarez, Cavani score as Uruguay crush 10-man Ecuador in Copa America

Suarez, Cavani score as Uruguay crush 10-man Ecuador in Copa America

AFP, Belo Horizonte :Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani were on target as Uruguay thumped 10-man Ecuador 4-0 in their opening Group C match at the Copa America on Sunday.Nicolas Lodeiro

Qatar hit back to snatch Paraguay draw in Copa America debut

Qatar hit back to snatch Paraguay draw in Copa America debut

AFP, Rio De Janeiro :Boualem Khoukhi scored 13 minutes from time as Asian champions Qatar hit back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Paraguay at the Copa

Salah helps Egypt to another Africa Cup warm-up victory

Salah helps Egypt to another Africa Cup warm-up victory

AFP, Johannesburg :Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah came off the bench but did not score as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosts defeated fellow qualifiers Guinea 3-1 Sunday in a

Arsenal refusing to sell AC Milan target Lucas Torreira

Arsenal refusing to sell AC Milan target Lucas Torreira

Arsenal are refusing to sell midfielder Lucas Torreira amid interest from AC Milan, according to Sky in Italy.With Marco Giampaolo set to move from Sampdoria to the San Siro as

David double as Canada rout Martinique

David double as Canada rout Martinique

AFP, Los Angeles :Canada kicked off the CONCACAF Gold Cup with an emphatic win over Martinique on Saturday, outclassing the Caribbean minnows 4-0 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California.Two

Messi 'bitter' as Colombia stun Argentina

Messi 'bitter' as Colombia stun Argentina

AFP, Salvador :Lionel Messi said his team was feeling bitter after Argentina lost their opening Copa America match 2-0 to Colombia despite dominating the second half.Goals from Roger Martinez and

Coutinho brace helps Brazil forget Neymar in winning Copa start

Coutinho brace helps Brazil forget Neymar in winning Copa start

AFP, Sao Paulo :A brace from Philippe Coutinho handed hosts Brazil a winning start to the Copa America on Friday in a 3-0 victory over Bolivia as the absence of

Sunday's hat-trick helps Dhaka Abahani beat Rahmatganj 5-2

A brilliant hat-trick by Nigerian booter Sunday Chizoba enabled defending champions Dhaka Abahani Ltd to pile up another impressive 5-2 goals victory over Rahmatganj MFS in the 13-team Bangladesh Premier

Juventus move ends Sarri's unhappy marriage with Chelsea

Juventus move ends Sarri's unhappy marriage with Chelsea

Agency :Maurizio Sarri is set to return to Italy to take the vacant managerial role at Juventus and bring the curtain down on a fretful one-year stay at Chelsea.Sarri

'Japanese Messi' Kubo set for Real Madrid move

'Japanese Messi' Kubo set for Real Madrid move

AFP, Tokyo :Teenage sensation Takefusa Kubo is poised to be snapped up by Spanish giants Real Madrid, Japanese media reported on Friday.The FC Tokyo forward, who recently made his