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Wales U21 2-1 Italy U21

Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring the winner for Wales
Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring the winner for Wales

A stunning Aaron Ramsey volley inspired Wales to a famous win over Italy - extending their unbeaten start to their Uefa Under-21 qualifying campaign.

Christian Ribeiro fired Wales into a seventh minute lead as the Bristol City defender crashed in Ramsey's corner.

Andrea Paloschi had levelled for Italy but Arsenal's teenage sensation turned goal-scorer in the 68th minute with a 20-yard beauty.

Group Three leaders Wales are already 10 points ahead of the Italians.

Ribeiro was the most unlikely of players to open the scoring as the Bristol City defender poked in Ramsey's corner at the back post after it was flicked on by Simon Church.

But it was Church's strike partner Sam Vokes who created the opening.

The Wolves striker's persistence forced an error from Italy defender Gabriele Angella, who inadvertently conceded the corner from which Ribeiro scored his first under-21 goal.

Wales should have doubled their lead five minutes later when Vokes this time forced Italian keeper Vincenzo Fiorillo into a rushed clearance from Giuseppe Bellusci's weak back-pass.

But Church, 25 yards from goal and marked by Andrea Ranocchia, could not guide his first-time shot, albeit from an acute angel, into the empty net.

Wales were left to rue that missed opportunity as within five minutes the Italians were level as unmarked Parma striker Alberto Paloschi glanced Antonio Barilla's pin-point left-wing cross past stranded keeper Chris Maxwell.


The hosts, though, were impressing against the losing semi-finalists at this year's Uefa European Championships in Wales' first U21 match at the Liberty Stadium.

Although star midfielder Ramsey was a peripheral figure in the first-half, Brian Flynn's side were easily more accomplished than their illustrious opponents.

And if Vokes' header from Neal Eardley's looping right wing cross has dropped in instead of wide, the Welsh would have deserved an interval lead.

Vokes was again inches away from scoring his fifth U21 goal just after the hour as he headed Neil Taylor's teasing left-wing cross just past Fiorillo's left-hand post.

But Ramsey gradually began to exert his influence on the game and with 22 minutes remaining, the 18-year-old showed why he is worth £5m.

Italy failed to clear and Ramsey flicked the ball up with his knee before superbly volleying into the corner of helpless Fiorillo's net for his second goal in 12 caps at this level.

Vokes almost added another but his late header hit the crossbar as Wales made amends for their last meeting with the Azzurri, a record 8-1 thrashing in Pavia six years ago.

Wales: Maxwell, Eardley, Blake (Morris, 64), Ribeiro, Taylor, Ramsey, King, Bradley, MacDonald, Vokes, Church (Evans, 61).
Subs not used: Cornell, Matthews, Richards, Partington, Thomas.

Goals: Ribeiro 8, Ramsey 68

Italy: Fiorillo, Bellusci, Ariaudo, Soriano (Bolzoni,82) , Ranocchia (c), Angella, Bianchi (Macheda, 75), Poli, Paloschi, Balotelli, Barilla (Pasquato, 71).
Subs not used: Seculin, Brivio, Rispoli , Castiglia.

Goals: Paloschi 23

Ref: Maxim Layushkin (Russia)

Att: 5,366

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see also
Wales U21 4-1 Hungary U21
12 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Wales U21 5-1 Luxembourg U21
31 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Luxembourg U21 0-0 Wales U21
27 Mar 09 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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