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Sunday, 4 June, 2000, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Czechs fall to Italy in Under-21 final
andrea pirlo
Italy's two-goal hero Andea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo was Italy's two-goal hero as the Azzurri beat the Czech Republic 2-1 to claim their fourth European Under-21 title.

His sensational free kick in the 81st minute put Italy in the driving seat again after Tomas Dosek had equalised an earlier penalty from the Inter Milan midfielder.

Marco Tardelli's side had to survive some intense pressure from a strong Czech side in an entertaining and evenly balanced match in Bratislava.

Italy nearly scored in the third minute of the final, but Bari striker Gionatha Spinesi screwed his shot wide.

Overhead kick

But the Czechs, roared on by the majority of a raucous crowd of around 12,000, took control in midfield, and Libor Sionko went close with a spectacular overhead kick in the 13th minute.

Tomas Dosek forced a good save from Christian Abbiati, but the Italians gradually began to assert themselves.

They took the lead three minutes before the break when Comandini went past three Czech defenders before being brought down by Roman Tyce.

Pirlo converted the penalty, although Czech goalkeeper Ales Chvalovsky managed to get his fingertips to the strike.

tomas dosek
Tomas Dosek equalised
The Czechs drew level after 51 minutes when a miskick from defender Bruno Cirillo allowed Marek Heinz to break down the right and put over a low cross for Tomas Dosek to slot home.

The equaliser prompted another sustained spell of Czech pressure but the Italian defence, commanded by the impressive Marco Zanchi, held firm.

Pirlo struck the winner with a superb curling free-kick from 25 metres, and only the last-minute sending off of Francesco Coco marred the Italian celebrations.

Czech Republic: Ales Chvalovsky, Roman Lengyel, Adam Petrous, Roman Tyce, Lukas Dosek,Thomas Ujfalusi, David Jarolim (Zdenek Grygera 65), Marek Jankulovski (Jan Polak 81), Libor Sionko (Milan Baros 62), Tomas Dosek, Marek Heinz

Italy: Christian Abbiati, Alessandro Grandoni, Marco Zanchi, Bruno Cirillo, Gennaro Gattuso, Roberto Baronio, Cristiano Zanetti (Fabio Firmani 85), Francesco Coco, Andrea Pirlo, Gianni Comandini (Nicola Ventola 74), Gionatha Spinesi (Ighli Vannucchi 90)

Referee: Kim Nilsson (Sweden).

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See also:

03 Jun 00 | Czech Rep
Late Bierhoff goal sinks Czechs
01 Jun 00 | Czech Rep
Jankulozski named in final 22
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