Goals from Nicolo Barella and Moise Kean were enough for a young side Italy to make a winning start to their Euro 2020 qualification campaign as they eased past Finland in Udine on Saturday night.
?Barella smashed the Azzurri ahead inside the opening ten minutes with a deflected half volley from just outside the area after Finland failed to effectively clear a free kick.
Finland saw plenty of the ball after Italy’s blistering start and Norwich’s Teemu Pukki had a gilt-edged chance in the second half, failing to covert a cross from the right hand side when well placed to score.
Pukki was punished for his miss in the 74th minute when Moise Kean, electric throughout the game, slotted home when played through on goal by Ciro Immobile for his first strike for Italy.
Key Talking Point
While Italy’s midfield is undoubtedly one of the more exciting in international football, with youngsters like Barella and Nicolo Zaniolo looking to make their marks, their frontline has struggled in recent months.
They only scored more than one goal in a game once in 2018, against Saudi Arabia in May, but Barella’s early strike somehow didn’t settle the nerves that were evidently bothering Italy’s forwards.
Ciro Immobile, so effective in ?Serie A, still doesn’t look entirely convincing at international level despite his evident pedigree. Italy are still in the early stages of their rebuilding process, but their struggles in front of goal is a massive worry.
Starting XI: ?Donnarumma (6); Piccini (7), Bonucci (6), Chiellini (6), Biraghi (7); Barella (8), Jorginho (6), Verratti (7); Kean (8*), Immobile (5), Bernardeschi (6).
Substitutes: Quagliarella (6), Zaniolo (5), Spinazzola (N/A)
STAR MAN – While most of their attacking play sputtered throughout the night, Kean kept probing as the Italians looked to establish a comfortable lead.
The 19-year-old showed composure worthy of substitute Fabio Quagliarella with his goal, which he will hope is the first of many in the blue of Italy.
MOISE KEAN!!!! Watch this space ?
— Sinthotelli (@Sinthhh) March 23, 2019
Moise Kean is the second youngest ever to score for Italy: 19 years and 1 month, behind Bruno Nicolè with 18 years and 9 months. 3rd place for Gianni Rivera
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2019
Italy have a second home qualifier to look forward to on Tuesday when they take on Liechtenstein. After that, they’re not in action again until June, when they face Greece in Athens.
Finland are away again in their next game against Armenia, with a home tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina awaiting them in June.