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Azzurrini qualify

snakies2010-05-04 08:56:16 +0000 #1
A goal from Giampaolo Pazzini proved enough to see off Hungary 2-1 on aggregate in the play-off, as the Azzurrini enter the European Under-21 Championships.

Italy could already count on the 1-1 draw they earned in Budapest last Friday, but had no intention of playing for a goalless result that would see them through on the away goals rule.

There was controversy within the opening 60 seconds. Simone Pepe and Giampaolo Pazzini combined on the edge of the area and the Fiorentina forward was brought down, perhaps inside the box, but the German referee waved play on.

Heavy rain on the stadium in Fermo made play difficult, especially for the more technically gifted Italian side, and Giorgio Chiellini slipped at the crucial moment when he had a great chance to score. Czvitkovicz and Marco Donadel shots were off target, while Fulop rushed off his line to close down Pazzini as he ran on to Defendi’s cushioned header.

Pepe has not scored for the Under-21 side in almost a year and wasted a golden opportunity after 29 minutes. He could only head Sammarco’s cross into the ground and out. The Azzurrini were fortunate that Feczesin was caught offside as Priskin took advantage of Donadel’s error, then Gianluca Curci saved a Regedei header and deflected Czvitkovicz effort.

The deadlock was finally broken straight after the restart, as Pazzini both started and completed the move. The Fiorentina star won back the ball in midfield, Alessandro Rosina cut back for Chiellini’s cross and Pazzini popped up at the near post for a glancing header.

Play had to be halted after 65 minutes, as the heavy rain caused one of the floodlights to black out, but the two teams were able to continue. Hanging on under Hungary’s late assault in search of a goal that would take the tie to extra time, the Azzurrini won 2-1 on aggregate and qualified for the European Under-21 Championships.

Italy 1-0 Hungary (2-1 on agg)

Scorer: Pazzini 48 (I)

Italy U-21: Curci; Potenza, Canini, Bovo, Chiellini; Defendi, Sammarco, Donadel, Rosina (Galloppa 69); Pepe (Pellè 83), Pazzini

Hungary U-21: Fulop; Vanczak, Juhasz, Regedei, Takacs; Cvitkovicz (Bori 61), Cadocz, Sandor, Huszti (Vasko 85); Feczesin, Priskin (Magasfoldi 74)

Ref: Weiner (Ger)


snakies2010-05-04 09:01:58 +0000 #2
Claudio Gentile and his players are confident they can successfully defend their European Under-21 title after qualifying via the play-offs.

“We have achieved another important objective,” said the Coach after tonight’s 1-0 win over Hungary, ensuring a 2-1 aggregate victory.

“It wasn’t easy, and on a pitch made difficult by the heavy rain, anything could’ve happened. In any case, the state of the field damaged both sides. I am happy and proud of my lads, who had already shown from the start of this qualifying campaign that they could achieve great things. We lost our way a little, but proved today that we’ve found that path again.”

Italy can now go on to defend their European Championship title, having won five of the last seven tournaments.

The decisive goal was scored by Giampaolo Pazzini, who both started and completed the move for his first Azzurrini goal in 14 months.

“A striker is always affected by failure to find the net,” explained the Fiorentina starlet. “It was a weight on my shoulders, but I am happy to have found my scoring touch in such an important game. I am very satisfied for my goal and for the overall performance of the team, proving great character and deserving this qualification.”

Giorgio Chiellini has returned to the Under-21 side after a spell with the senior international squad and is likely to take part in May’s European Championships.

“This team can still grow and improve further. We are a solid unit who fight for the same goals,” said the Juventus defender. “I must compliment Pazzini and all our team-mates. The main strength of this side is the team spirit and we showed that during our celebrations with the fans.”

France also qualified, eliminating England 3-2 on aggregate, while Germany got past the Czech Republic’s challenge. The remaining five play-offs will be completed on Wednesday.

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