A stroke of genius from Edoardo Vergani lit up Rotherham and knocked Sweden out. Italy won 1-0 against Sweden with a goal after just four minutes of play from the Inter forward who netted his third goal at the tournament. The Azzurrini responded to the Swedish fightback with Alessandro Russo saving a penalty three minutes from the end of the first half. On Thursday, Italy will play the winner of the match tomorrow between Belgium and Spain but Alessio Riccardi will unfortunately miss out after picking up a second yellow card.
Nunziata picked the same side that won against Israel apart from Fagioli who missed out that time round before returning in his natural position between the lines in attacking midfield. Gyabuua was on the right of midfield, Leone was at playmaker with Greco on the left. In attack, Riccardi and Vergani formed the front two while the backline as made up of Barazzetta, Armini, Gozzi Iweru and Brogni.
Italy started on the front foot. In the fourth minute, Greco beat his man on the left and crossed to Vergani who took a touch to stop the ball and blast an unstoppable shot into the corner. Sweden responded and got the ball up the pitch and their pressing was asphyxiating but not especially effective. The Azzurrini weren’t especially effective and continued to pose a threat on the break. Gyabuua was tireless and fired over with a long shot in the 27th minute. In the 33rd minute, Fagioli played it forwards to Gyabuaa who chased the ball down but it was turned away by the goalkeeper. In the 37th minute, Sweden won a penalty. Armini fouled Nygren in the area. Hammar took the spot kick but the giant Alessandro Russo dived to his right to make the save. The final chance saw Riccardi set up Fagiolo who fired over.
The second half began with some Fagioli magic in the 43rd minute who saw the goalkeeper out of position from 40 metres and he looked to catch him out only for the shot to unfortunately hit the post. The Swedes continued to compete and put a lot of effort in but the main chance was in the 58th minute Lahne shot from the right and hit the post. Italy did’t just watch and did a good job in occupying the spaces given up by Sweden and the best chance was for the Azzurrini in the 65th minute when shots from Vergani, Greco and then Vergani again were blocked just in front of goal. The Dutch referee Higler gave four minutes of stoppage time that seemed to go on for every before the whistle came with Italy winning after their best display at the tournament.
In his press conference, Carmine Nunziata was full of praise for his players. “This is a tight group that defended and attacked with the same intensity. It was a deserved result and a reward for the lads’ effort.” Vergani also spoke as he’s top of the goalscoring charts with the Dutch Redan and the Swiss Mambimbi: “It was a great team performance and my goal belongs to the whole group.”
Italy 1-0 Sweden
Goal: Vergani 4’
Italy (4-3-1-2). Russo, Barazzetta, Armini, Gozzi Iweru, Brogni; Gyabuaa (Ricci 60’), Leone, Greco, Fagioli (Rovella 66’); Riccardi (C) (Vaghi 78’), Vergani. Coach. Nunziata. Bench. Gelmi, Brancolini, Semeraro, , Mattioli, Ponsi, Colombo Cortinovis
Sweden (4-4-2). Andersson, Wikström, Andersson, Svensson (Alexandersson 73’), Olsson, Hammar, Kusu (Mujanic 47’), Ackermann (C), Kayembe (Lahne 47’), Timossi Andersson, Nygren. Coach. Franzén. Bench. Westerberg, Larsson, Ben Lamin, Stenshagen, , Larsson, Backman
Referee: Higler (NED); Assistants: Højgaard (FRO) and Kóbor (HUN)
Sending Off: Olsson for a second bookable offence
Bookings: Riccardi, Ricci, Ackermann, Greco
Note: 40-minute halves