Wednesday, 11 February 2009

[U21] Azzurrini held by Sweden

Sweden, who will host the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals this summer, came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against their Group A rivals Italy in a friendly game in Trieste.

Italy 1-1 SwedenItaly were ahead after 24 minutes through Robert Acquafresca's penalty but Pontus Wernbloom levelled after the break, also from the spot.

The Azzurrini had further chances with captain Marco Motta and winger Ignazio Abate dominant on the right.

Pierluigi Casiraghi's side had their first chance after 17 minutes when Sebastian Giovinco's curling free-kick brushed the post to Kristoffer Nordfeldt's left. Abate then sent through Motta, whose cross was only just turned over by Acquafresca. However, he made amends with his penalty after Martin Olsson felled Abate just inside the box.

Sweden picked up their game late in the first half through Emir Bajrami, but not long after the break Motta forced Sweden substitute goalkeeper Par Hansson into a save with a long-range shot. However, Italy's lead was wiped out after 64 minutes when Ola Toivonen's solo run was ended illegally by Damiano Santacroce and Wernbloom chipped in his spot-kick.

A minute later Italy substitute Mario Balottelli sent a powerful shot from outside the penalty box just over the bar while at the other end, Guillermo Molins called Azzurrini goalkeeper Andrea Consigli into action. Italy had the last chances, Balotelli hitting the crossbar with a header and then volleying not far wide.

The pair will meet for real in their second Group A game in Helsingborg on 19 June. The Azzurrini open their campaign against Serbia on 16 June and play their final group game on 23 June against Belarus.

[UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2009]

Source: UEFA

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