Empoli are the 2020/21 Campionato Primavera 1 champions after they defeated Atalanta 5-3 in the play-off final on Wednesday evening at the Stadio Enzo Ricci in Sassuolo.
La Dea had the opportunity to win their third consecutive title and fifth overall but Gli Azzurri triumphed for the first time since 1998/99 and secured their second championship overall. Empoli will also participate in the 2021/22 UEFA Youth League.
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— Empoli Fc Official (@EmpoliCalcio) June 30, 2021
The Tuscans were close to not reaching the play-offs and needed a 3-0 win against SPAL in the final round of the regular season to secure their place. Despite scoring 65 goals in 30 matches – three more than Sampdoria in first position in the league table – Empoli had one of the leakiest defences in the league, having conceded 52 times.
Empoli were a team that lived up to the adage that attack is the best form of defence under coach Antonio Busce and they certainly turned on the style in the final.
Gli Azzurri took the lead after 28 minutes when Tommaso Baldanzi took a free-kick and back-heeled it to Kristjan Asllani to thump the ball into the net, but Atalanta equalised eight minutes later when Emmanuel Gyabuaa played a soft, lateral pass for Alassane Sidibe to score with a low drive.
This sparked the Tuscan side even more and they scored two more goals before half-time. Baldanzi made it 2-1 after beating three opponents and then putting the ball into the bottom left corner, while an Asllani interception inadvertently became a through-ball for Emmanuel Ekong to run onto and score with ease.
Jonathan Italeng pulled one back for La Dea in the 53rd minute with a header, but Ekong made it 4-2 to Empoli just a minute later after running onto a delightful long pass from Jacopo Pazzini and then beat Orobici goalkeeper Matevz Dajcar from a tight angle.
Pazzesca doppietta in Finale ??
Tommaso Baldanzi vince il premio “Piermario Morosini” come miglior calciatore della Fase Finale del Campionato #Primavera1TIM ?? #AtalantaEmpoli #PrimaveraTIM #WeAreCalcio pic.twitter.com/UK7OXA90UN
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA) June 30, 2021
Referee Gianpiero Miele then had to send off three players. Empoli defender Leonardo Pezzola and Atalanta forward Tommaso De Nipoti were both sent off in the 71st minute for violent conduct and La Dea defender Giorgio Scalvini received a red card after 84 minutes for a foul on Baldanzi.
Alessandro Cortinovis pulled it back to 4-3 from the penalty spot after Empoli midfielder Luca Belardinelli handballed in the box, and Fazzini provided his second assist in the second half for Baldanzi to get his brace and make it 5-3.
Baldanzi was awarded the Premio Piermario Morosini for his performances in the play-offs.