Stuart Pearce and England will be flying back into London on Thursday night as Italy clinch a semi-final spot. Will Burns presents his review of Saturday’s games.
ENGLAND 1-3 NORWAY
England were knocked out of the Under-21 Euros at the group stage after a devastating defeat by Norway in Israel.
It was another disappointing performance for Stuart Pearce’s side, who had previously lost their opening game 1-0 to Italy. England had made six changes to the team bringing in the returning highly rated pair Wilfred Zaha and Thomas Ince. But tthe changes made no difference to the pitiful performance.
England found themselves behind after just fifteen minutes to Fredrik Semb Berge’s fine 12-yard finish and Molde’s midfielder Jo Inge Berget extended the lead before the break. In the second half it got worse when Magnus Wolff Eikrem made it 3-0 although Three Lions’ defender Craig Dawson netted a spot kick for consolation only.
Head coach Pearce, whose contract expires this month, and senior manager Roy Hodgson watched as the white shirts of England faded in the scorching temperatures in Petah Tikva, Israel. England began the match determined to put the Italy game behind them but they ended the match overcome and miserable after exiting the competition at the group stage for the second successive Under 21 European Championships.
The defence who have gone almost 900 minutes without conceding before the tournament crumbled miserably and goalkeeper Jack Butland found himself picking the ball out of his net for the second time in 26 minutes of action.
Since the 4-0 final defeat to Germany in the 2009 tournament, England have now just taken two points from five games.
ITALY 4-0 ISRAEL
Italy defeated host nation Israel on Saturday with a 4-0 victory to go through with a game still in hand.
Empoli midfielder Riccardo Saponara hit the first, Manolo Gabbadini of Bologna notched two and Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi finished off the scoring. The star if the first group game, Lorenzo Insigne was taken to hospital for tests after a left leg injury.
Insigne was carried off after he landed badly when Israeli defender Eyal Golasa held him back. The team medics x-rayed the winger immediately and The Italians will be hoping that it’s just a minor foot problem.
Devis Mangia’s boys looked confident and never looked like losing the game especially when Golosa received a second yellow card for dangerous play after taking out Saponara just before half-time.
The Italians got off on the right foot and took control with Alessandro Florenzi and Marco Verratti pulling the strings and dictating the tempo. A goal was due to arrive and it came as Saponara picked out the top of the net following an assist from Insigne and great pressure from Ciro Immobile. Israel reacted with Alon Turgeman who let Italy’s slow defence off following a great attack along with Mohammed Kalibat.
The game changed within the two episodes around on 40 minutes gone – Golasa’s red card and the injury to Insigne (replaced by Fausto Rossi) but two minutes later Italy were 2-0 ahead. Immobile found Gabbiadini who managed to find the back of the net (after being twice denied by Kleyman).
With an extra man Mangia’s boys settled down. Their third goal came from a powerful free-kick from Gabbiadini. Mangia then took the decision to rest him along with Verratti, bringing on Mattia Destro and Nicola Sansone. A build-up from Destro and Ofir Kriaf led to Florenzi scoring the fourth inside the box and the game was over.
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