Relive Italy's 2-0 win over Denmark in their opening match of the Under-21 European Championships in Poland.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 19:15 UK
Last Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017 at 05:00 UK
Italy's Under-21 European Championship campaign got off to a winning start this evening as they beat Denmark 2-0 in Krakow.
An otherwise uneventful match was lit up by Lorenzo Pellegrini's opening goal 10 minutes into the second half, with the Italy midfielder breaking the deadlock with a stunning bicycle kick.
Andrea Petagna then put the result beyond doubt with a second four minutes from time, taking Italy level with Germany at the top of Group C.
Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage below.
7.15pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's clash between Denmark and Italy at the Under-21s European Championships in Krakow. These two sides are the last to get their campaigns underway in Poland, and both will be hopeful of going far in the competition despite being in a difficult group alongside Germany and Czech Republic. Before we have a closer look at both nations, though, let's first check out the team news...
7.21pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then? Well, there may not be many immediately recognisable names in the Denmark starting lineup but they did the job throughout qualifying and will be hopeful of taking that form into today's game. Lasse Vigen Christensen of Fulham starts in midfielder for Niels Frederiksen's side, while Cardiff forward Kenneth Zohore - who scored 12 Championship goals last season - is on the bench.
7.23pmThe headline Italy team news is that in-demand goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma starts despite his ongoing contract wrangling with AC Milan. The 18-year-old will still be eligible for the 2019 tournament on home soil, but he is also one of the most experienced members of an Italy squad which contains six players with senior international caps already.
7.25pmDenmark will not be daunted by some of the names in that Italy starting XI, mainly due to their fine qualifying form. Group C as a whole is a fascinating one, with Germany and Italy both fighting it out for the one guaranteed place in the semi-finals despite both being amongst the leading favourites for the tournament, Denmark certainly cannot be ruled out, though, having reached the last four two years ago before losing to eventual champions Sweden.
7.27pmGermany were the only team to amass more points than Denmark in all of the qualifying groups, with Frederiksen's side having won nine and drawn one of their 10 games, dropping only two points along the way. They were a full 11 points clear of Bulgaria in second place so it was complete dominance from Denmark and if they can produce a similar run of results at the tournament itself then they could well be dark horses.
7.29pmIt was Denmark's defensive record which was most impressive about their qualifying campaign, conceding just three goals in their 10 outings and keeping a qualifying-best seven clean sheets along the way. The stinginess at the back did not come at the expense of goals at the other end, though, with Denmark notching 24 at an average of almost two and a half per game - nine more than the next highest scorers in their group.
7.31pmDespite that impressive qualifying record, Denmark come into this tournament in fairly uninspiring form. They have won just one of their last four games, including two defeats in their last three. Indeed, they have lost as many games in their last three as they had in their previous 15, but their most recent outing saw them run out 2-0 winners over Sweden - the current holders of the European Championship title.
7.33pmIt is a similar story with Italy, who have won just one of their last five games and two of their last nine ahead of the tournament. The Italians have been beaten three times in those nine matches with four draws having gone 10 games without defeat prior to this recent dip in form. Another loss this evening would see them suffer back-to-back defeats for the first time since June 2015 - the second of which came in their opening group game of the Euros.
7.35pmItaly went on to be eliminated in the group stages two years ago, but it was a very close run thing and they actually finished level on points with eventual winners Sweden, in addition to having superior goal difference. It was Sweden who progressed into the semi-finals, though, and Italy crashed out. They are the most successful nation in this competition's history, though, with five titles to their names - the most recent of which came in 2004.
7.37pmA 13-year wait is quite a long one for a team of Italy's calibre given their past glories in this competition, and the current crop of players will be bidding to end that this summer. Germany have already laid down a marker with a 2-0 win over Czech Republic earlier today, placing even more importance on Italy winning too. They weren't entirely convincing in qualifying, though, finishing just one point clear of second-placed Serbia in their group.
7.39pmItaly are the only team able to match Denmark's defensive record throughout qualifying, though, also keeping seven clean sheets and letting in just three goals during their 10 matches. They were less prolific at the other end of the field, though, scoring just 17 goals, which was the third worst in their group. Serbia and Slovenia both scored more than Italy, so we may not be getting a goalfest tonight.
7.41pmPREDICTION: Right, we're nearing kickoff in Krakow, which means that it is time for a prediction! This could well be a low-scoring game with both teams so impressive at the back, and the dip in form for both in the build-up to the tournament makes it even more difficult to call. Italy look like they have the edge in terms of quality, though, so I'm going to go for a narrow 1-0 Italian win.
7.43pmOkay, the players are out and the anthems are being sung. We're just about ready to get going here!
1 minKICKOFF: Here we go, then! Italy get us underway in Krakow!
3 minItaly have quickly taken a degree of control over this match, seeing plenty of the ball early on and making a couple of dangerous ventures forward. They have settled quickly by the looks of things.
5 minItaly have ensured that all of their big hitters are available for this tournament, which can't be said for everyone. They are amongst the favourites to lift the trophy with the quality at their disposal, but they are in such a tough group that all of these games are vital.
7 minStill it is Italy knocking the ball about in these opening exchanges, but no sights of goal to speak of just yet. Denmark are struggling to get their foot on the ball for any length of time, but they are looking solid out of possession.
9 minBerardi goes down holding his face following a slightly late challenge by a Denmark player, but there seemed to be very little in that one. Berardi does seem to be in pain, though, and he will require treatment.
11 minBerardi will be fine to continue by the looks of things. Good news for Italy, who would not have wanted to lose a key player to injury so early into their first game.
13 minNot much to report in the opening stages of this match. It is mostly being played in the middle third, with neither side able to make any serious inroads in an attacking sense so far.
15 minItaly have had almost 70% of the ball in this opening 15 minutes. They haven't created any chances to show for it, but they are the team in most control of the contest at the moment.
17 minSHOT! The first shot of the night comes from Denmark as Borsting picks up a loose ball and tries his luck from range, only to fire his effort well over the crossbar.
19 minBetter from Denmark as they knock the ball around inside the Italy half and put their opponents under some prolonged pressure for the first time tonight. An offside eventually brings it to an end, but Denmark are beginning to settle into the game more now.
21 minCLOSE! Italy have their best attacking moment of the match so far as a fine delivery from the left goes all the way through to Conti at the far post. He goes for goal first time but can only slam his effort into the side-netting when he may have been better off shooting across goal.
23 minDenmark have a free kick in a good crossing position jere following a poor challenge from Berardi, who is lucky to escape without a card. Punishment in some form could be incoming, then...
24 minThe free kick is fizzed in low towards the near post, but it is cleared away before it can trouble Donnarumma.
26 minYELLOW CARD! The first card of the night is shown to Norgaard, although its not immediately clear what for. He may have said a word out of place to the referee.
27 minAh - the replays have just shown a trip by Norgaard in the build-up to an Italian attack, which is why the referee pulled it back and gave him the yellow card.
29 minSAVE! Almost half an hour in and we have our first shot on target! It is a good one too as Benassi rifles one towards the corner from 25 yards out, but Hojbjerg is at full stretch to push it away.
31 minThe Germany match earlier today was a very slow-burner, but this one could give it a run for its money in the boredom stakes. It hasn't been great so far!
33 minItaly's main threat seems to be coming from down the right flank, with Conti not needing a second invitation to get forward whenever possible. Italy have so far been limited to lots of possession on the flanks rather than an area where they could do really do some damage.
34 minGood defending from Rugani as he steps across and puts an end to a promising Denmark attack before shepherding the ball back to Donnarumma.
36 minThere is a brief stoppage in play as some debris is removed from Donnarumma's goal. At least something is going into that goal - this game desperately needs something to spark it into life.
38 minItaly have had 64% possession in this first half and they are the ones dictating the tempo of the game for the most part. Neither side are very much on top at the moment, though.
40 minThat debris from Donnarumma's goal was actually fake bank notes thrown at him by supporters as a reaction to him turning down the offer of a new contract at AC Milan.
42 minItaly need to start moving the ball a little more quickly. They have the chance to break here but once again slow things down too much, which allows Denmark to get back in their formation and frustrate Italy.
44 minWe're on the stroke of half time now and I can only recall two shots - one apiece and only one of which was particularly notable. This is not a thriller, that's for sure!
45+1 minThere will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
8.42pmThe first half comes to an end in Krakow, then, and at this time I usually have a quick recap of the highlights. The truth is, though, there have been very few from that opening 45 minutes and we're going to need a significant improvement from both teams in the second half.
8.44pmIt is Italy who have had the only two attacking moments of any note, with Conti firing one shot into the side-netting and Benassi drawing a good stop from the keeper. The latter was a long-range strike, though, with Italy so far being unable to penetrate Denmark's defence.
8.46pmThe Danes have fared no better themselves, mind, with just one shot which flew well over the crossbar to look back on. Italy have seen the lion's share of possession, but it is just that extra spark in the final third which has been missing so far. It was a similar story in the day's earlier game and the second half in that one was much better, so let's hope for the same here!
46 minKICKOFF: Denmark get us back underway for the second half!
47 minBerardi looks to provide a moment of magic which has been sorely lacking from this game so far. He chests the ball down inside the area and looks for the top corner with a volley, but it flies over the crossbar.
48 minBrilliant defending from Maxso as he throws himself in the way of a shot from Pellegrini. It was good football from Italy to tee the midfielder up, but once again Denmark protect their penalty area very well.
50 minItaly have started this second half on top, putting more steady pressure on the Denmark defence. It is the same story as the first half so far, though, with no penetration when they do get forward.
52 minBernardeschi does well to win his side a corner, chasing what looked like a lost cause into the corner and flicking it back against the defender. Nothing comes of the resulting delivery, though.
54 minFinally, a bit of magic! It doesn't really belong in a game like this, but Pellegrini has scored a superb bicycle to break the deadlock! Denmark failed to adequately clear their lines from a cross into the box, with Maxso's header only going as far as Pellegrini. The ball is behind the Italy midfielder, but he pulls off a textbook bicycle kick to give his side the lead in stunning fashion.
56 minThis game desperately needed a goal, and now hopefully Denmark will begin to show a little more attacking intent themselves. They have not threatened Donnarumma's goal at all tonight, but they have to start going for it now.
58 minDenmark do respond with a half-chance of their own, although it is one of Italy's making. They lose the ball in a dangerous position but the defence scrambles back to ensure that it only results in a corner.
60 minDenmark do already look like they are trying to move the ball a bit more quickly now that the onus is on them to attack. They were content to just frustrate Italy before that goal, but there is more urgency about them now.
62 minSHOT! Denmark win a free kick in a very good position and Hjulsager lines it up, but he fires his effort comfortably high and wide of the target.
64 minJust over 25 minutes remaining in this one now and you'd have to say that Italy deserve their lead at this stage. Their performance won't have struck the rest of Europe with fear, but they have definitely been the better team tonight.
66 minCHANCE! Denmark create their best chance of the night so far as Hjulsager lifts an enticing ball into the box which Ingvartsen looks like meeting, but he seems to misjudge the trajectory and can't get anything on it in the end.
68 minITALY SUB: Italy make their first change of the evening as Berardi is replaced by Federico Chiesa.
70 minDenmark had initially responded well to going behind, but Italy have just begun to develop a degree of control over the game once again. They are giving up a bit more of the ball now, but they look relatively comfortable.
72 minBorsting puts a teasing ball into the box and it goes right across the six-yard box, but there are no red shirts there to touch it home.
72 minDENMARK SUB: Denmark make their first change of the evening, with Cardiff's Kenneth Zohore coming on for Ingvartsen.
73 minITALY SUB: Italy respond with a change of their own as Alberto Grassi comes on in place of Benassi.
75 minSHOT! Shooting chance for Italy as Gagliardini is teed up on the edge of the box, but he leans back and fires an effort well over the crossbar.
76 minSAVE! Less than 15 minutes remaining and Donnarumma has just been called into action for the first time! It is a decent effort fro Hjulsager as he tries to bend one into the bottom corner from outside the area, but Donnarumma gets down well to make the save.
78 minDenmark are by no means out of this game. They are beginning to apply a bit of pressure now and you feel that the belief is just beginning to grow in this Denmark team.
80 minDENMARK SUBS: Double change for the Danes as Mikkel Duelund and Emiliano Marcondes replace Borsting and Andersen.
81 minSAVE! Good play from Chiesa as he dips inside from the left flank and unleashes a powerful strike which stings the palms of the keeper at the near post. Chiesa has looked bright since coming on.
83 minYELLOW CARD! Holst picks up a late yellow card for a cynical challenge on Chiesa.
85 minGood play from Petagna as he jinks his way past one defender inside the box before putting the ball back across the face of goal, but Hojbjerg gets a hand to it on its way through for a throw-in.
85 minSAVE! More quick footwork and smart play from Petagna as he holds onto the ball inside the penalty area before unleashing a snapshot which Hojbjerg pushes wide.
86 minItaly have their second goal and, with it, surely all three points. Chiesa is the creator with a fine cross into the middle, and Petagna works really hard to get in front of his marker to steer it past the keeper from close range. Good finish from the striker.
88 minITALY SUB: That proves to be Petagna's last action of note as he is replaced by Alberto Cerri.
90 minThere will be two minutes of added time at the end of this match.
9.43pmItaly see out the win, then, matching Germany's result from earlier in the day with a 2-0 victory over Denmark. It was a pretty poor game overall, in truth, but Lorenzo Pellegrini's stunning bicycle kick lit it up before Petagna's late second sealed all three points for Italy.
9.45pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole as Italy begin their Under-21 European Championship campaign with victory over Denmark. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to check back in tomorrow for more live coverage of the tournament in Poland. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!