Wednesday, 18 November 2009

[U19] Italy reach Elite round

The 2008 runners-up Italy clinched first place in UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying Group 1 with victory against runners-up the Republic of Ireland on the section's final day.

Mattia DestroThe pattern of the group was set from the outset, the frontrunners each recording 5-0 victories in the opening round of matches.

Substitute Gianmarco Zigoni scored twice in the closing stages to add to earlier goals from Cardoso Dumitru, Marco D'Alessandro and Mattia Destro as the Azzurrini overcame Albania at the Stadio Olimpico Serravale.

Joe Mason also found the net twice in Ireland's victory against the hosts San Marino, the other goals coming from Conor Henderson, Jamil Adam and James Keohane.

Zigoni was on target again on Matchday 2, although Italy had to wait until the 71st minute for Cristian Brolli's own goal to break the deadlock against San Marino. AC Milan's Zigoni swiftly added a second, Destro contributing two more in the closing stages.

Ireland also made sure of progress with a 2-0 defeat of Albania, who lost Alvaro Bishaj to a red card in conceding the penalty from which Aaron Doran gave Ireland a 56th-minute lead, Henderson confirming the win six minutes from time.

Italy and Ireland therefore met in Serravalle with the Azzurrini needing only a point to finish first. In the event, two Destro goals in three minutes just past the hour ensured Massimo Pisceda's team would maintain their perfect record.

Albania, meanwhile, claimed third place thanks to a 4-1 defeat of San Marino, Bekim Bala scoring twice and Armando Vajushi and Erti Koni getting one apiece.

Italy, who reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt last month, and 27 other qualifiers from the first stage will be drawn into seven groups of four teams in the Elite round, with the pools to be played in spring 2010 and the winners of each section joining hosts France in next summer's final tournament.

That final tournament will also determine - by finishing at least third in the group stage - the six European nations that will take part in the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.

Source: UEFA

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