Report: Italy 0-2 England MU21s
Rhian Brewster’s early double strike helped England Under-21s to a 2-0 win over Italy as they made an ideal start to their U21 EURO preparations this season.
The Sheffield United forward found the net twice in the opening five minutes at the Stadio Adriatico to put England in firm control against the five-time U21 Euro winners.
The Azzurrini had 20 shots towards goal but only three were on target as a dogged and determined England held out for an impressive victory.
The Young Lions return to action on Tuesday when they host Germany at Bramall Lane as they continue to build towards their ninth successive U21 Euro Finals, which take place in Romania and Georgia next summer.
Lee Carsley's side began the night with pace and purpose and were causing their hosts problems inside 60 seconds.
Watch: Italy MU21s v England
See Lee Carsley's side in action as they take on Italy in their latest U21 EURO preparation game
After Ryan Sessegnon’s cross-shot was parried, Cole Palmer’s goal-bound effort found Conor Gallagher, who was scythed down from behind by Edoardo Bove as he turned to shoot.
Brewster, after a little shimmy, then sent Alessandro Plizzari the wrong way to notch his second goal at Under-21 level.
England’s press was relentless in the opening stages and an interception from Gallagher deep in Italy's half soon set England on their way to a second with just five minutes on the clock.
The midfielder’s interception was picked up by Angel Gomes, who slipped in Brewster with a delightful through ball before the 22-year-old delicately lifted over the onrushing Plizzari and into the empty net.
England continued to wreak havoc and Gallagher very nearly got the goal that his start to the match deserved.
Djed Spence’s cross was parried into the Chelsea playmaker's path by Plizzari but the stopper’s blushes were spared by a tremendous block from defender Caleb Okoli.
Play became increasingly stretched as Italy searched for a way back into the contest, and the hosts had the best of the action as the half wore on.
A cute touch and spin from Pietro Pellegri allowed him a run at goal but Josef Bursik managed to get a strong hand to the striker's poked effort before Charlie Cresswell hooked the ball clear.
Brewster then popped up in his own box to deny what was a certain goal when he diverted Mattia Viti’s powerful header away as Italy grew in confidence.
England very nearly snatched a third before the interval, but Levi Colwill’s far-post header struck the upright as a great first half very nearly became an even better one.
A raft of substitutions at the interval injected further impetus into the home side, who started strongly but without troubling Stoke City's Bursik.
With Italy creeping upfield, more space emerged for England in behind and Palmer stung the hands of Plizzari from distance in search of a goal which would seal the contest.
Italy resorted to shots from distance, such was the organisation of the England defence, but they were unable to strike gold despite the best efforts of Nicolo Rovella and Salvatore Esposito.
Their frustration was mounting and boiled over late on when Rovella went through the back of substitute Jacob Ramsey just two minutes from time, for which he was shown a second yellow card.
Another of Carsley’s replacements, Folarin Balogun, almost added an extra gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time but his low effort was kept out before the final whistle was blown on a brilliant night on the Adriatic coast.
England: 1 Josef Bursik (Stoke City); 15 Charlie Cresswell (Leeds United), 5 Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Burnley, on loan from Manchester City), 4 Levi Colwill (Brighton and Hove Albion, on loan from Chelsea); 12 Djed Spence (Tottenham Hotspur), 6 Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur), 20 Angel Gomes (Lille), 3 Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham Hotspur); 23 Cole Palmer (Manchester City), 7 Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United), 10 Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)
Substitutes: 2 Max Aarons (Norwich City) for Spence 71, 17 Luke Thomas (Leicester City) for Colwill 71, 18 Tommy Doyle (Sheffield United, on loan from Manchester City) for Gomes 71, 14 James Garner (Everton) for Skipp 71, 11 Anthony Gordon (Everton) for Sessegnon 71, 19 Harvey Elliot (Liverpool) for Palmer 71, 8 Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa) for Callagher 71, 9 Folarin Balogun (Reims, on loan from Arsenal) for Brewster 71, 16 Luke Mbete (Huddersfield Town, on loan from Manchester City) for Harwood-Bellis 90
Substitutes not used: 13 Josh Griffiths (Portsmouth, on loan from West Bromwich Albion), 21 James McAtee (Sheffield United, on loan from Manchester City), 22 James Trafford (Bolton Wanderers, on loan from Manchester City), 24 Tyler Morton (Blackburn Rovers, on loan from Liverpool)
Head coach: Lee Carsley
Goals: Brewster 3, 5
Bookings: Brewster 14, Gomes 17, Skipp 69
Italy: 1 Alessandro Plizzari (Pescara), 15 Caleb Okoli (Atalanta), 3 Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta), 14 Mattia Viti (Nice), 16 Andrea Cambiaso (Bologna, on loan from Juventus), 8 Edoardo Bove (AS Roma), 18 Fabio Miretti (Juventus), 10 Nicolo Rovella (Monza, on loan from Juventus), 13 Fabiano Parisi (Empoli), 11 Pietro Pellegri (Torino), 23 Nicolo Cambiaghi (Empoli, on loan from Atalanta)
Substitutes: 7 Lorenzo Colombo (Lecce, on loan from AC Milan) for Pellegri 28, 3 Destiny Udogie (Udinese, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur) for Parisi 45, 24 Nicolo Fagioli (Juventus) for Viti 45, 19 Salvatore Esposito (SPAL) for Cambiaghi 45, 25 Giorgio Cittadini (Modena, on loan from Atalanta) for Bove 45, 2 Raoul Bellanova (Inter Milan, on loan from Cagliari) for Cambiaso 68, 20 Emanuel Vignato (Bologna) for Miretti 68
Substitutes not used: 5 Lorenzo Pirola (Salernitana, on loan from Inter Milan), 6 Simone Canestrelli (Pisa, on loan from Empoli), 9 Luca Moro (Frosinone), 12 Elia Caprile (Bari), 17 Filippo Ranocchia (Monza, on loan from Juventus), 21 Alessandro Sorrentino (Monza), 22 Stefano Turati (Frosinone, on loan from Sassuolo), 26 Matteo Ruggeri (Atalanta)
Head coach: Paolo Nicolato
Bookings: Rovella 29, 86
Red card: Rovella 86
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