Italy got their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to a great start on Saturday, as Nicolo Barella and Moise Kean led the Azzurri to a 2-0 victory over Finland.
Despite being without the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Alessandro Florenzi, it was two of the Italy’s younger stars that showed their worth despite their relative inexperience.
Barella’s deflected effort opened proceedings just seven minutes in, while Kean – who was making his first senior start – showed great composure in the 74th minute to extend the Azzurri’s unbeaten run in European Championship qualifiers to 31 matches – their last loss coming in September 2006 to France.
74' GOAAALLLL!!! #Kean!
What a finish! Perfect through-ball from #Immobile and it's Moise with a great strike as he bags his first goal for his country! #ItalyFinland ???????????????? 2??-0??#EuropeanQualifiers pic.twitter.com/eXzs1Tdg6j
— Italy (@azzurri) March 23, 2019
As mentioned, it only took seven minutes for the Azzurri to open the scoring. Marco Verratti’s free kick wasn’t cleared and it fell to Barella, and his effort deflected off Sauli Vaisanen and into the back of the net.
Italy continued to push forward and Kean burst down the left and fired in a great cross for Cristiano Piccini, but the Valencia man could only send his volley into the side-netting.
The Azzurri appealed for a penalty just before half-time when Federico Bernardeschi was taken down, but referee Orel Grinfeld saw nothing in the challenge.
The second half started in subdued fashion, as the Azzurri struggled to find a way past their Finnish counterparts who were more than happy to sit deep in their own half despite being down a goal.
In fact, Jorginho seemed to be the only one sparking any sort of attack for the away side as some errant passing out from the back nearly gifted them with some chances to equalize.
It should have been 1-1 in the 65th minute as a cross from Lod found an unmarked Pukki in the penalty area, but he fired wide of the mark from seven yards out.
The miss proved costly as Kean put a wrap on proceedings with a fine finish in the 74th minute. Immobile ran forward from midfield and put in a wonderful through ball for the Juventus starlet, who showed great composure to first time the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards out.
At just 19 years and 23 days, Kean now sits as the second youngest goalscorer for Italy. Only Bruno Nicole was younger, having netted at the age of 18 years and 258 days.
Fabio Quagliarella nearly scored minutes after coming on for Immobile, only for Hradecky to deny the Sampdoria man with a great one-handed save on a close range header.
The crossbar was next to keep Quags off the scoresheet, as he found some space in the penalty area and fired a stinging drive that shook the frame of the goal.
It proved to be the last talking point of the match, as Italy ran out the clock to pick up three points in convincing fashion.