VIDEO: Italy comeback stuns Lions
Wednesday, 29 August, 2012
Alberto Cerri stars in Azzurri win at the Pirelli Stadium
By Glenn Lavery in Burton
Italy came from behind to defeat England 3-2 in an entertaining opening match of the St. George’s Park International U17 Tournament.
Derby forward Mason Bennett put England ahead with a clinical finish in the 20th minute and Chelsea midfielder Charlie Colkett doubled the lead soon after, coolly slotting home Bennett’s centre.
Gennaro Tutino pulled a goal back for the Italians with the half-time whistle looming, before his captain, Parma forward Alberto Cerri, took centre stage.
He demonstrated sublime control and a calm finish to level matters in the 54th minute and then won the game with an unstoppable strike midway through the second half.
Despite their tender years, England did not completely lose their heads and sought an equaliser of their own but time just ran out for John Peacock’s young charges and they slipped to a narrow loss.
England looked bright in the opening exchanges and were determined to keep the ball on the floor where possible and build attacks from the back.
Bennett was quick and powerful from his left-wing berth and caused the Italian right-back, Luigi Luciani, a number of problems early on with his surging runs down the wing – and he would soon cause even more mayhem but from inside the box.
The first shot of note came in from Chelsea’s Conor Hunte, who forced Lorenzo Ferrari to turn a fierce shot around the post on eleven minutes. Italy responded through a curler from Tutino which Dan Atkinson did well to palm away.
The deadlock was broken when Bennett punished the visitors for failing to properly clear a Hunte free-kick. The ball was sent in from the right and it bounced around in the area until the Derby man rifled an angled right-foot drive into the corner of the net.
Within six minutes it was 2-0 as Colkett got himself on the scoresheet. He ghosted into the box to meet Bennett’s left-wing cut back and slotted the ball calmly into the back of the net to put the Young Lions into a seemingly comfortable lead.
Alex Kiwomya, son of former Bradford and Sheffield Wednesday star Andy, might have extended the advantage further when he was played through by Colkett but Ferrari was off his line quickly to block.
Italy had created chances in the first half, though, none more so than when Elio Capradossi called Atkinson into action with a close range header, and the visitors went in at the break just one goal behind after Tutino clipped Francesco Di Mariano’s through ball beyond the young Leeds stopper.
England right-back Josh Aina was involved at both ends at the beginning of the second half. First, he burst forward with intent, collected Kiwomya’s return ball, cut inside and unleashed a shot which flew just beyond the angle of post and bar. He showed his defensive capabilities minutes later when he prevented Tutino from getting on the end of Cerri’s teasing cross.
The big forward had proved a handful all evening and it seemed inevitable it would be him who would equalise for the Italians – and he did so in majestic fashion. He controlled Rosario Rizzo’s deep, left-wing cross expertly on his chest and slotted the ball home coolly from inside the box.
Looking for a quick response, Peacock made a double substitution just before the hour mark and it almost paid dividends immediately. Aston Villa’s Dan Crowley replaced Colkett and almost put England back into the lead, but his stabbed effort was stopped by Ferrari’s legs.
Cerri was involved with the Italy U17s last season it appeared as though that experience had benefitted him greatly when he fired his side into the lead in formidable style.
After Di Mariano had dispossessed Callum Jones, Cerri collected the loose ball, burst through the centre and gave Atkinson absolutely no chance with a thunderous effort.
England attempted to get back into it for the remainder of the contest, with Crowley influential in the centre of the park, but a third goal just would not come.
Crowley saw an in-swinging left-sided free-kick hit the foot of the post and Bennett zipped a shot into the side netting but the Italians held out to register an opening day win in the St. George’s Park International Tournament.
England have the chance to make amends on Friday when they take on Turkey at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium.