David Schiavone Date: 14th November 2013 at 10:51pm
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Italy trounced Northern Ireland 3-0 at Reggio-Emilia’s Stadio Città Del Tricolore in European U21 Championship Qualifying on Thursday evening.

The Azzurrini went ahead on 25 minutes thanks to a magnificent Federico Viviani free kick, before Antonio Rozzi and Andrea Belotti made sure of the result late in the second half.

Luigi Di Biagio’s men were favourites for the match and took the game to their opponents from the off, pinning the visiting side in their own half.

Northern Ireland were struggling to make any headway in the Italian half and were giving possession away extremely easily, but Italy weren’t creating any clear cut chances.

It took a magnificent free kick from Viviani to break the deadlock. The Roma owned player, who is on-loan at Pescara curled the ball up and over the Irish wall from just outside the area, placing it perfectly in the top corner.

A few minutes later Italy had a penalty shout as Belotti looked to have been brought down by Luke McCullough, but the referee told the italian to get to his feet.

McCullough was once more in the thick of the action as his poor pass out of defence gifted the ball to Belotti on the edge of the area, but the Palermo-owned Albinoleffe striker could only drag his shot wide.

Jim Magilton’s men were under the cosh as Italy asserted their dominance as they tried to double the lead, which they almost did as Cristian Battocchio did have the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for offside.

As the first half drew to a close, Northern Ireland had a brilliant opportunity to level the match.

Rory McKeown raced down the left and perfectly placed his floated cross on the head of Kirk Millar, but the 21-year-old somehow managed to direct his header over the bar from three yards, when really it was easier to score.

Italy started the second period in much the same way they started the first, dominating possession and territory.

The Azzurrini should have doubled the lead when after a loose pass between Mccullough and Carl Winchester was intercepted by substitute Francesco Fedato but the youngster scuffed his shot and it was easily dealt with by Conor Brennan.

The Irish goalkeeper was back in action soon after when he acrobatically saved a Luca Antei overhead kick.

As the second half wore on the home side looked more and more comfortable on the ball, though any clear cut chances were few and far between.

Davide Zappacosta had a shot from range go just wide, before Rozzi doubled the lead for the Azzurrini.

Belotti raced down the right side then squared the ball to the Real Madrid Castilla man, who slotted home past Brennan.

Then just seconds later Belotti made it three after an Antei shot fell kindly to him in the six yard box, and he calmly applied the finish.

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