Sunday, 23 May 2010

[U19] Destro sends Italy through to finals

Inter forward Mattia Destro scored two and set up another as Italy secured their place at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with a game to spare after a topsy-turvy 3-2 victory over Northern Ireland.

Italy 3-2 Northern IrelandThe Azzurrini dispatched the Czech Republic in their Elite Round Group 5 opener despite being down to ten men, but Northern Ireland proved a tougher proposition in Russia.

Indeed, the Irish were briefly in front when Oliver Norwood converted a penalty just after the half-hour, following a foul on William Grigg, before Destro took centre stage.

The Nerazzurri youngster rifled in a free-kick after 40 minutes then swiftly turned provider, charging down the right on the break and teeing up Luca Tremolada to make it 2-1.

Northern Ireland recovered from two goals down to draw with hosts Russia on Friday and again they clawed their way back, captain Connor McLaughlin finding the net just before the hour after a Shane Ferguson free-kick.

Yet Destro was not done, and his eighth goal in qualifying midway through the second period established an unassailable lead atop Group 5 for Italy.

Massimo Piscedda's side, who play Russia in their final game on Wednesday, join Spain, Portugal and hosts France in this summer's eight-team finals, which will also be used to determine Europe's representatives at the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.

Italy qualified for this Elite Round of the competition after
topping their Qualifying Round group last Novemeber, with Piscedda's youngsters beating Albania, San Marino and the Republic of Ireland in Group 1.

> Qualifying Round Group 1 (in San Marino)
13 to 18 November 2009.
Italy 5-0 Albania, Republic of Ireland 5-0 San Marino, Republic of Ireland 2-0 Albania, San Marino 0-4 Italy, Italy 2-0 Republic of Ireland, Albania 4-1 San Marino.

> Elite Round Group 5 (in Russia)
21 to 26 May 2010.
Italy 2-0 Czech Republic, Russia 2-2 Northern Ireland, Czech Republic 3-3 Russia, Italy 3-2 Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland v Czech Republic, Russia v Italy.

> Final Tournament (in France)
18 to 30 July 2010.

> FIFA Under-19 World Cup 2011 (in Colombia)

Source: UEFA

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