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Italy U21 1-0 Wales U21

Mattia Mustacchio celebrates the crucial goal for Italy Under-21 against Wales
Mattia Mustacchio celebrates the crucial goal for Italy Under-21 against Wales

Wales Under-21 agonisingly missed out on the Uefa Under-21 Championship play-offs after losing to Italy in Pescara.

Mattia Mustacchio's early goal saw the Azzurri sneak top spot in Group Three despite a worse goal difference.

The placings were determined by results and away goals between the two sides, Wales having won the reverse fixture last year 2-1.

Manager Brian Flynn's side then missed out on one of four best runner-up places on goal difference to Iceland.

Wales went into the match three points ahead of their opponents and knowing that a draw would be good enough to win the group.

Flynn, who is among the favourites to replace Wales senior manager John Toshack, had been boosted by the arrival of Neal Eardley, Andy King and Simon Church from Toshack's squad, and all three started.

It was the visitors who began the brighter, with Joe Allen and Hal Robson-Kanu both forcing Italy keeper Vito Mannone, who is on Arsenal's books, into saves.

We played very well in two very important matches

Italy coach Pierluigi Casiraghi

But Wales were made to regret those missed opportunities when Mustacchio gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute.

Reading winger Robson-Kanu, who scored the only goal in Wales' win over Hungary on Saturday, looked dangerous and he tested Mannone again before seeing another effort blocked.

The visitors were then grateful to goalkeeper Chris Maxwell for twice denying Diego Fabbrini in quick succession.

The second half was a scrappy affair initially and three players were booked following a melee that erupted after a foul by Lorenzo Ariaudo on Church.

Wales were running out of time, but it was Italy who were threatening to score, with Maxwell saving efforts from Fabbrini and Guido Marilungo.

The last action of the match was another Italian effort, this time from Ezequiel Schelotto, as Wales, who lost 5-4 to England in the play-offs two years ago, slumped to defeat.

"We played very well in two very important matches, winning both 1-0," said Italy coach Pierluigi Casiraghi.

"I'm really, really happy, even though I know we haven't reached our target yet. If you look back at where we were two months ago, I have to be proud of my players and myself too.

"Andrea Ranocchia and Angelo Ogbonna are great defenders. Thanks to them and their team-mates we didn't get into any trouble against Bosnia and Herzegovina or Wales."


Italy U21: Mannone, Ariaudo, Ogbonna Obienza, Ranocchia, Bolzoni, Fabbrini, Marrone (Soriano 56), Mustacchio (D'Ambrosio 74), Schelotto, Marilungo, Okaka (Destro 78).
Subs Not Used: Perin, Angella, Pasquato, Borini.

Booked: Ariaudo, Marilungo.

Goals: Mustacchio 14.

Wales U21: Maxwell, Morris, Neil Taylor, Eardley, King, Matthews (Richards 34), Allen (Marc Williams 78), Bradley (Doble 56), Robson-Kanu, MacDonald, Church.
Subs Not Used: Cornell, Stephens, Partington, Jake Taylor.

Booked: Bradley, MacDonald.

Att: 6,891

Ref: Bas Nijhuis (Holland).



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see also
Hungary U21 0-1 Wales U21
04 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Malta U21 1-1 Wales U21
10 Aug 10 |  Welsh
Flynn eyes new Wales U21 talent
27 Jul 10 |  Welsh
Flynn stays upbeat on Wales U21
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Bosnia-H'govina U21 2-1 Wales U21
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Welsh football history
25 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Italy country profile
14 Feb 12 |  Country profiles
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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