Thursday, April 25, 2024

Italy continue Euro 2024 build-up with win over Ecuador in New Jersey

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 24 Mar 2024

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Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Barella were on target as holders Italy continued their Euro 2024 build-up with a 2-0 victory over Ecuador in New Jersey.

The goals came at the beginning and end of the friendly at the Red Bull Arena with Pellegrini opening the scoring with a ferocious strike after just three minutes.

Ecuador enjoyed a spell of pressure in the second half but failed to take advantage and Barella sealed the win with a fine lobbed finish in time added on.

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti changed his entire XI from Thursday’s game against Venezuela with goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario and defender Raoul Bellanova making their debuts.

The Azzurri were quick out of the blocks and won an early free-kick outside the Ecuador area after Alan Franco fouled Giacomo Raspadori.

Federico Dimarco’s initial strike from the set-piece was blocked by the wall but the danger was not averted for Ecuador as the ball bounced invitingly towards Pellegrini.

The Roma forward displayed great awareness and technique as he launched himself and connected with a ferocious left-foot volley that flew past Javier Burrai into the top corner.

Italy pushed for more and Dimarco put a header wide but Ecuador responded by creating chances for Felix Torres and Moises Caicedo, who both missed the target.

Nicolo Zaniolo brought a good save out of Burrai despite scuffing a shot and Raspadori then had an attempt blocked for Italy but Pervis Estupinan and Gonzalo Plata both threatened for Ecuador before the break.

Raspadori drew another save from Burrai with a header early in the second half and Zaniolo also headed wide of goal when he should have done better from close range.

Ecuador then took control and Jeremy Sarmiento had an effort blocked on the hour before Vicario produced a fine save to deny Plata an equaliser.

Estupinan curled a shot narrowly wide as the South Americans kept up the pressure.

Italy tired in the closing stages and were forced to defend deeply.

Ecuador won a succession of corners but were unable to make them count as Kendry Paez had a shot blocked and Willian Pacho headed over the bar.

Italy wrapped up the win after a counter-attack in stoppage time.

Barella applied the finishing touches with a neat dink over the keeper after being played in by Riccardo Orsolini’s clever through ball.

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