Wednesday, 3 March 2010

[U21] Italy keep Wales in their sights

Italy earned a crucial 2-0 victory against Hungary to move above their opponents into second place in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 3.

Italy U21 2-0 Hungary U21Stefano Okaka Chuka opened the scoring after 25 minutes in Rieti, dribbling past two defenders and finding the corner with a low, right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Having been set up by Fabio Borini for an effort on goal moments before Pierluigi Casiraghi's side went ahead, Ezequiel Schelotto returned the favour to the Chelsea striker five minutes after the break with a cross which Borini directed narrowly over.

The traffic was all one way as the Azzurrini dominated the encounter. Captain Lorenzo De Silvestri was the next to threaten, the defender shooting wide after being teed up by Mario Balotelli.

With only a one-goal advantage, Casiraghi's men were reduced to 10 men on 66 minutes when Inter midfielder Francesco Bolzoni received two yellow cards in quick succession for a foul and then for dissent.

The numerical inferiority didn't last long, however, with Tamas Kadar receiving a second booking for hauling back Okaka just seven minutes later.

The hosts did finally get their second nine minutes from time when the Hungarian defence failed to clear a low cross by De Silvestri and substitute Luca Marrone fired in a brilliant left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

The win moves Italy to within three points of Group 3 leaders Wales, with two important qualifiers remaining. The five-time European champions travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina on 3 September before concluding the qualifying section with a big showdown with the Welsh four days later.

Before that double-header, Casiraghi will have an eye on fourth-placed Bosnia-Herzegovina's match with Hungary in their game in hand in August, with the two teams sitting just three points and one point behind Italy in the standings respectively.

The 10 group winners and four best runners-up will qualify for the play-off stage, with the seven winners joining hosts Denmark in the finals in June 2011.

Group 3 Results
Tuesday 2 March
Luxembourg 0-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Wednesday 3 March
Italy 2-0 Hungary

Group 3 Standings
[1] WAL - PLD: 06 - PTS: 13
[2] ITA - PLD: 06 - PTS: 10
[3] HUN - PLD: 05 - PTS: 09
[4] BOS - PLD: 05 - PTS: 07
[5] LUX - PLD: 08 - PTS: 04

Remaining Group 3 Fixtures
Wednesday 11 August
Bosnia-Herzegovina v Hungary
Friday 3 September
Bosnia-Herzegovina v Italy
Saturday 4 September
Hungary v Wales
Tuesday 7 September
Hungary v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Italy v Wales

Source: UEFA

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