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19 June 2017 4:50AM
Italy Under-21s edge past Denmark in Euro 2017 opener

Italy Under-21s edge past Denmark in Euro 2017 opener

Italy have got their Under-21 European Championship campaign off to a winning start with a 2-0 triumph over Denmark this evening.

Lorenzo Pellegrini lit up an otherwise unspectacular match with a brilliant opening goal after 54 minutes, before Andrea Petagna added a second late on to seal all three points for Italy in Krakow.

The result takes Luigi Di Biagio's side joint top of Group C, level on points with Germany following their 2-0 win over Czech Republic earlier in the day.

The match got off to a very slow start, with Italy lacking penetration despite enjoying the lion's share of possession during an uneventful first half.

The first shot of the night did not arrive until the 17th minute when Frederik Borsting tried his luck with a long-range effort, but it was always rising and never threatened to trouble Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Italy goal.

Italy had their first sight of goal midway through the first half when a cross from the left went all the way through to Andrea Conti who slammed his effort into the side-netting from a tight angle.

It took until the 29th minute for either goalkeeper to be tested, and Jeppe Hojbjerg needed to be at full stretch to keep out Marco Benassi's goalbound 25-yard shot.

It proved to be the last attacking moment of note until the opening goal, which saw Pellegrini light up the game with a moment of magic completely at odds with the vast majority of the rest of the game.

Denmark failed to adequately clear their lines following a cross into the area, and Pellegrini reacted best to the loose ball with a stunning bicycle kick that flew past Hojbjerg and into the top corner.

Denmark responded well to going behind as they suddenly needed to show more attacking intent, with Andrew Hjulsager firing a free kick over the crossbar before delivering a testing cross for Marcus Ingvartsen, who failed to get anything on the ball.

Donnarumma was finally called into action for the first time with less than 15 minutes remaining, and again it was Hjulsager who was asking the questions with a curling low strike which needed to be tipped around the post.

Denmark were beginning to look more confident of an equaliser as the clock ticked towards 90, but the introduction of Federico Chiesa - son of former Italy international Enrico - sawe Italy regain control and he stung the palms of Hojbjerg with a powerful effort from a tight angle.

Petagna then burst into life with a couple of snapshots in quick succession, and those proved to be valuable sighters moments later when he put the result beyond doubt by doubling Italy's advantage with four minutes remaining.

Chiesa capped his impressive cameo by supplying the cross from the left flank, and Petagna wrestled his way in front of his marker to turn the ball past the keeper from close range.

It was a goal which sealed all three points for Italy as they moved level with Germany, who Denmark face next on Wednesday - the same day as Italy take on Czech Republic.