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Live Commentary: England Under-21s 1-3 Italy Under-21s - as it happened

Follow Sports Mole's live coverage of the European Under-21 Championship between England Under-21s and Italy Under-21s.
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England Under-21s and Italy Under-21s have both been eliminated from the European Under-21 Championship in the Czech Republic after the Azzurrini beat the Young Lions 3-1 this evening.

Marco Benassi scored a brace and Andrea Belotti was also on the scoresheet, while Nathan Redmond added a late consolation for Gareth Southgate's side.

However, Portugal's 1-1 draw with Sweden in the other Group B clash ensured that both sides were eliminated.

Read how all the action unfolded below.


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Good evening! The England Under-21s will be hoping to secure a spot in the last four at the European Under-21 Championship this evening, but they face a tricky match against an Italy side that are still looking for a win. Let's start with a look at the teams.

ENGLAND STARTING XI: Butland, Jenkinson, Garbutt, Stones, Gibson, Forster-Caskey, Redmond, Chalobah, Lingard, Kane, Ings

ITALY STARTING XI: Bardi, Biraghi, Rugani, Romagnoli, Zappacosta, Crisetig, Benassi, Cataldi, Belotti, Berardi, Trotta

So, there are four changes for Gareth Southgate's side. One of them is forced as Alex Pritchard has been ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury. Jake Forster-Caskey comes in in the middle, while John Stones returns from concussion, Jesse Lingard earns a starting spot after netting the winning goal against Sweden, and Danny Ings starts up front alongside Harry Kane.

For Italy, there's just one change from the side that shared a goalless draw with Portugal at the weekend. Former Fulham and Brentford striker Marcello Trotta is handed a start following a bright spell off the bench last time out, coming in for Cristian Battocchio. Stefan Sturaro is suspended.

So, both sides are still hoping to make it through to the semi-finals ahead of this match. England just need to win, or draw if Sweden don't beat Portugal in the other Group B fixture. A win for Italy would place them above England in the table on head-to-head record, but they would have to wait and see what happens in the other match to make through. Incidentally, you can also follow coverage of the Portugal vs. Sweden clash here.

Gareth Southgate gave a press conference yesterday ahead of this match. He told reporters: "We have to look at whether we've created enough clear-cut openings because I don't think we've missed a glaring chance. We have to make sure the service is right and also, though we want to dominate possession and dictate games, we have to make sure we are not toothless at the end of it. That balance is important for us. In the first game we created more chances than Portugal but people said we didn't control the game; in the second game we had 65 per cent possession and people said we didn't move the ball quickly enough."

Meanwhile, Luigi di Biagio said at his media briefing: "It is an extremely important game and the boys know it. The presence of some big figures from the federation [including senior coach Antonio Conte] is a spur but not an added pressure – these are mature boys. Having Antonio Conte here every day is great for us. Tomorrow we have no choice, we have to win. Then we'll see [what happens]. I am convinced the other game will not end in a draw but we have to think only about ourselves, otherwise we risk losing our game here."

This evening's match is taking place at the Andruv Stadion in Olomouc, which is the home to SK Sigma Olomouc. The ground holds 12,566 fans, and the England side have already been out there warming up for tonight's clash:


While Jesse Lingard's performance and goal in the 1-0 win over Sweden last time out has earned him a start this evening, one player who remains on the bench is highly-rated Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek. He came off the bench in the win over Sweden, and put in a decent performance, resulting in some predicting that he would start this evening. That's not the case, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him getting the nod early in the second half, particularly is England need a goal.

Should either of these two sides make it through, they'll be facing either Denmark or Germany in the semi-finals. The group winners have the ominous task of facing Germany, while the runners-up take on Group A winners Denmark.

The players are making their way out ready to for kickoff. As always, the anthems for both countries will be played ahead of kickoff.

PREDICTION! While the pre-match formalities take place, there's just time for a quick prediction. Italy will be desperate to make sure they don't go home without a win, but England know that they are close to a semi-final place too. It's going to be a close one, and I'm going for a 1-1 draw.

Right then, the anthems are done, the captains, who is both of the goalkeepers this evening, have taken part in the coin toss, and the players are getting into formation ready for kickoff.

KICKOFF! Italy get the action underway!

Italy keep possession for the opening couple of minutes in a quiet for confident start. Biraghi gives the ball away to Chalobah though, allowing the midfielder to look for Harry Kane, but the striker's crowded out on the edge of the box.

CHANCE! England are the first to cause problems in the opposition box as Danny Ings knocks the ball out wide to Redmond, who in turn crosses in for Kane. Rugani gets his boot to it first, and just scoops it past the post for a corner, but it could have gone anywhere. Redmond quickly wins it back though, and this time forces Zappacosta to concede the corner.

Garbutt delivers the corner, which Kane tries to head in, but Rugani beats him to the ball. Ings picks it up on the edge of the area and tries to tee it up for his strike partner, but the Italian defence is ready again. England have made an excellent start, but Italy are frustrating their main threat with some close marking of Kane.

CHANCE! Italy win their first corner of the match, which Berardi curls in. Benassi is waiting at the near post, and flicks it on towards Romagnoli, but John Stones just about does enough.

Zappacosta makes a brilliant run down the right flank before sending a well-timed through-ball to the edge of the box for Benassi, but Carl Jenkinson manages to wrong-foot the midfielder and win it back for England.

CHANCE! The best chance of the match so far falls to Danny Ings as Kane sets up his strike partner with an excellent pass through the middle. The new Liverpool man takes a touch as he moves into the box before thumping his shot towards the bottom left, but it goes just wide. It was a great pacy move from the two strikers, but the finishing touch just wasn't there.

The England defenders have to alert again as Italy win another corner. Berardi crosses it in looking for Trotta, but Ben Gibson is there to hook it clear. Italy have certainly started to show more intent in the last few minutes since Ings's miss.

Italy are pressing forward again, but Cataldi decides to try to force a chance by unleashing a low drive from 25 yards out. He doesn't get enough power or accuracy behind it though, and it harmlessly goes wide of Jack Butland's left post.

England are living a little dangerously at the back as a slip from Lingard hands the ball back to the Azzurrini. Belotti charges into the box looking to get on the end of a long ball forward, but he can't control it in time and it ends up going behind for a goal kick.

CHANCE! Harry Kane is looking sharp this evening! Having already set up a superb chance for Ings, the Tottenham man loses Zappacosta as he lines up a right-footed effort from the left-hand side of the box, but Bardi pulls off a stretching save to deny the striker.

GOAL! England Under-21s 0-1 Italy Under-21s (Andrea Belotti)

Italy have a free kick after Garbutt trips Beradi, which allows the striker to float in a ball for Andrea Berardi, who is left unmarked, allowing him to lob the ball beyond Butland from just inside the box.

GOAL! England Under-21s 0-2 Italy Under-21s (Marco Benassi)

Oh England, what are you doing?! The Young Lions leave tons of room at the back just moments after letting in the first, allowing Lorenzo Crisetig to pick out Marco Benassi with a through-ball into the box, setting up the midfielder for a simple finish. It takes a slight deflection off Ben Gibson, who sprints back to try to rescue the situation, but it's too late. As things stand, England are going home.

England are trying to get a foothold back in this match as they just keep the ball at the back, making sure they don't let Italy back through for a third! Gibson plays a nice ball forward for Chalobah, but his pass into the box goes astray, allowing Italy to pin England back inside their own half.

England are starting to show a bit more confidence going forward again after a pretty traumatic spell for the Young Lions. Redmond, who has been one of Southgate's best players so far this evening, makes a move down the left before crossing in towards Kane, but Rugani is there to make the block.

England have had plenty of possession since letting in the second, but they're taking too many touches, giving Italy time to close them down. Belotti gets the ball back from Forster-Caskey, and tries to set up Trotta with a cross from the left, but Butland is ready to claim it.

CHANCE! Forster-Caskey gets forward with a run through the middle, sliding the ball in to the run of Kane, but the Tottenham forward finds his path blocked by Rugani again. Kane has struggled for service in the first two fixtures of this match, but he's seeing plenty of the ball tonight.

Italy are putting England under pressure at the back again as Biraghi blasts in a stunnign cross, which Trotta and Berardi both fail to connect with. It comes back to the wing-back on the edge of the box, but his finish is poor, flying well high of the crossbar.

CHANCE! Nathan Redmond has been setting up chances from both sides so far this evening, and this time he takes it into the box himself to have a shot, forcing a decent save from Bardi with a sliced effort from a tight angle, which appears to have left the keeper in a bit of pain.

CHANCE! Bardi is pulling of some excellent stops to protect Italy's lead as England search for a goal. Harry Kane is involved again as he strikes it sweetly from 30 yards out, controlling a big kick out from the back by Butland, but the Italy keeper dives to his right to keep it out.

Stones comes under pressure at the back as he tries to bring it out from the back, losing out to a challenge from Trotta, which allows Belotti and Berardi to bear down on the box, but the Evertonians defensive colleagues step up to get numbers back and make sure Italy can't add a third before the break.

HALF TIME: England Under-21s 0-2 Italy Under-21s

So, England switched off for a couple of minutes in the first half, and Italy punished them for it, scoring twice in quick succession to take a 2-0 lead into the break. As it stands, this result helps neither of these two sides, with Sweden and Portugal drawing in the other Group B match. There's still plenty of time for that to change though.

While England fans won't be happy with the scoreline, the performance has been a silver lining. England had 58% of the possession and had six chances, three of which were on target and two which were blocked. Italy have only had five shots, but have scored with both on their on target efforts.

This is Harry Kane just after the second goal went in. The look on his face says it all! England had had the better of the chances up until that point, and were arguably the best side for most of the first half, but Italy made the most of their chances.
Danny Ings and Harry Kane look dejected after Italy score to make it 2-0 during the UEFA Under21 European Championship match between England and Italy at Andruv Stadium on June 24, 2015© Getty Images

England need to make a strong start to the second half, so don't be surprised to see an early change of too from Southgate. Will Hughes worked well with Kane early on again Sweden, but tired, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek had a solid late cameo in that match. Benik Afobe hasn't had a chance to show what he can do yet, having been called up as a late replacement for the injured Saido Berahino. He's been in stunning league form this season and probably isn't someone the Italian side have studied too much in the run up to this match.

The players are starting to make their way back out ready for the start of the second half.

RESTART! England get the second half underway. Both sides are unchanged for now.

CHANCE! It's a promising start by England as Garbutt gets out from the back, passing it into the box for Jesse Lingard, who dodges Zappacosta and Rugani before unleashing a curling effort towards the top right corner, but it flies just wide.

Italy are still passing the ball around with ease through the middle. That's the main area that the Italians have dominated so far tonight. A long ball forward from Belotti catches England out though, and Stones has to turn it behind for a corner.

CHANCE! Italy go for a rather unusual corner, which leaves England scrambling a bit. Berardi slides it in low for Cataldi, but Forster-Caskey beats him to it and puts it behind again. This time Berardi goes for a ball traditional delivery, and it's quickly cleared by the Young Lions.

CHANCE! Harry Kane uses his pace to get the ball back down the other end for England, and he has Redmond to his left in space, but takes to shot on himself. He doesn't test Bardi but does force a corner, which is swiftly dealt with. Ings manages to win it back quickly, but scuff his finish well wide.

England look so vulnerable when Italy play the ball through the middle, with Trotta picking up the ball between Stones and Gibson, but the latter does just enough to put him off.

BOOKING! Zappacosta picks up the first yellow of the night for tripping Ings just outside the box. Redmond takes the resulting free kick, which Ings flicks on, but it goes wide again.

CHANCE! Butland is called into action down the other end following a quick move by the Azzurrini. Belotti tries to smash it in, but his finish is straight at the England captain.

SUB! Italy are making the first change of the match, replacing striker Domenico Berardi with defender Stefano Sabelli.

England have a free kick in a promising position as Benassi is penalised for bringin down Jenkinson on the box, but the the Young Lions can't create anything from it.

SUB! Gareth Southgate is making his first change, and it's one double-barrelled name replacing another as Ruben Loftus-Cheek is on for Jake Forster-Caskey.

CHANCE! Jesse Lingard has shown a couple of moments of real quality in this second half. He's found by a cross from Redmond, and takes a couple of touches to get the ball onto his right foot before chipping the ball towards the top corner, but it just goes wide.

BOOKING! Lotfus-Cheek has had an immediate impact, just not in the way England would have been hoping. The Chelsea youngster, who is picking up just his third cap for the Young Lions, catches Cataldi, earning himself England's first booking of the match.

England have a corner as Bardi scuffs a clearance from a Chalobah shot, leaving it to go behind. Harry Kane rises highest for the header from Garbutt swinging ball back into the box, but he nods it over.

GOAL! England Under-21s 0-3 Italy Under-21s (Marco Benassi)

Marco Benassi has his second of the night, and has surely ended any hopes of an England comeback. Zappacosta launches a throw in deep into the box, but Trotta flicks on with his heel to set the midfielder, who hadn't scored internationally before tonight, for a free header. There's nothing Jack Butland can do as he dives to his right, only to see the ball squeeze in at the far post. The keeper looks livid with his defenders, clearly wondering why Benassi was left unmarked.

SUB! That assist will be Marcello Trotta's final contribution for the Italian side as Simone Verdi is coming on for the final 15 minutes.

Despite increasing their lead, Italy still aren't doing enough to go through. The goalless scoreline in the other match means that Portugal will go through as group winners with five points, while Sweden would finish second with four points, edging Italy because of their 2-1 win over the Azzurrini earlier in the tournament. Should either side score in that match though, Italy would likely jump up to second.

England don't appear to have given up, with Jenkinson making a move down the right before crossing in for Kane, who heads well wide. The Tottenham striker has been hampered by some excellent marking from Rugani throughout the match, which has limited his ability to threaten the Italy goal.

CHANCE! It's Kane again with a swerving effort from the edge of the box, but it just isn't his night as it pulls away from the right post at the last minute.

England are shooting on sight now as Redmond creates some space just outside the box, attempting a similar shot to the one missed by Kane a few moments earlier, but his finish goes the same way, missing wide right.

Kane tries to set up Ings with a cross in just a few yards out, but the striker misses the ball as he lunges in, leaving it to go straight out for a goal kick.

SUB! Italy make their final change, replacing Davide Zappacosta with Federico Viviani.

UPDATE: It's great news for Italy as Portugal have scored in the other match! That will send Portugal through as group winners and Italy as runners-up ahead of Sweden. The Italian bench is delighted!

England are dominating possession in the final minutes of this encounter as Italy now seem happy to sit back and defend, knowing that they should have done enough to go through, barring a late equaliser from Sweden.

Italy make a quick break forward with Biraghi knocking it forward for Benassi. The midfielder is on a hat-trick, but selflessly passing to Verdi instead, who hits it wide on the half-volley.

England continue to run at the Italy defence, pushing for a late consolation as the match heads into four minutes of stoppage time.

UPDATE: A huge groan goes around the stadium and the Italy coach has his head in his hands, and it's all because Sweden have equalised in the other match, which would knock the Italians out. It's a cruel blow for a side that have played superbly tonight.

GOAL! England Under-21s 1-3 Italy Under-21s (Nathan Redmond)

There probably isn't anyone on the pitch who deserves a goal for England more than Nathan Redmond, who has worked hard throughout the match, and he's snatched a late consolation for the Young Lions. Lingard pulls it back to Loftus-Cheek on the edge of the box, and the Chelsea youngster flicks it on for Redmond, who hits it excellently from the edge of the box, rifling it into the roof of the net.

FULL TIME: England Under-21s 1-3 Italy Under-21s

It's all over, both in the match and in the tournament for both of these sides. With just one win in the tournament, England finish bottom in Group B, while Italy finish third on account of their defeat to Sweden in their opening match of the tournament. Both sets of players look dejected as they head off the pitch.

Italy will take more positives from this match than England, despite their elimination. Marco Benassi has his first two goals for the side, while Francesco Bardi was excellent in the goal again.
Marco Benassi of Italy celebrates with team mates after scoring to make it 2-0 as Nathan Redmond of England looks on during the UEFA Under21 European Championship match between England and Italy at Andruv Stadium on June 24, 2015 © Getty Images

Well that's all from this match, but join us again at the weekend when there will be a couple of scintillating semi-final ties, as Portugal face Germany and Sweden go up against neighbours Denmark. Until then, thanks for joining me this evening. Goodbye.

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Danny Ings of England takes on the Portugal defence during the U21 International Friendly match between England and Portugal at Turf Moor on November 13, 2014
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