Nicolò Barella’s deflected strike has given Italy the half-time lead over Finland in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier.
The Azzurri began their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign in Udine, but Federico Chiesa, Lorenzo Insigne and Alessandro Florenzi were ruled out through injury, so Moise Kean and Cristiano Piccini got their first senior Italy starts. Finland used a very defensive 5-3-1-1 formation, missing Jere Uronen and striker Jasse Tuominen.
Italy broke through within seven minutes with a little bit of luck, as a Marco Verratti free kick was not cleared effectively and Barella hit the low volley from the D, which took a deflection off Crotone’s Sauli Vaisanen to wrong-foot the goalkeeper.
The two debutants almost combined for a great goal, as Kean burst down the left and on his floated cross, Piccini volleyed on to the side-netting at the back post.
Finland had good periods of possession and passing, but Giorgio Chiellini made a decisive tackle to stop Robin Lod going clear. Kean’s shot was charged down, with Bernardeschi and Verratti drilling wide.
Bernardeschi had penalty appeals waved away just before half-time and there was some contact on his ankle, but there was too much hesitation between the attempted trip and him going down.
Italy 1-0 Finland (Half-Time)
Barella 7 (I)
Italy: G Donnarumma; Piccini, Bonucci, Chiellini, Biraghi; Verratti, Jorginho, Barella; Bernardeschi, Immobile, Kean
Finland: Hradecky; Granlund, Toivio, S Vaisanen, Arajuuri, Pirinen; Lod, Sparv, Kamara; Hamalainen; Pukki
Ref: Grinfeld (ISR)
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