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Football Reporting


Euro 2020 friendlies – Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne both score as Italy hammer Czech Republic

Italy gave their fans the perfect send-off ahead of the European Championships with a 4-0 victory against the Czech Republic in Bologna.

Ciro Immobile scored the first after 23 minutes, cutting in to shoot a deflected effort inside the near post, and another inadvertent ricochet helped Nicolo Barella to double the advantage before the interval.

The two second half goals were far more spectacular. First Lorenzo Insigne finished with aplomb after a perfect through-ball from Immobile and then Insigne found Domenico Berardi alone in the right hand side of the area and he waited for reserve goalkeeper Jriri Pavlenka to go to ground before scooping the ball over him.

Italy open the tournament against Turkey on Friday, while the Czech Republic first play Scotland on Monday.

Talking point – Gareth Southgate and Steve Clarke will be licking their lips

There should be a warning before each of these matches: pre-tournament friendlies are a poor indication of the tournament itself. You should not make judgments on sides on the way they look, resting players and with pretty vanilla tactics.

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That all said, the Czechs look awful. They look ineffective in possession and have to resort to desperate defending to keep from conceding. The 5-0 defeat at Wembley looks a far better indicator of where they stand in international football than the 2-1 victory over England in Prague.

It is hard to think Scotland really could have a better opening fixture – if you were to take any notice of pre-tournament friendlies of course.

Man of the match: Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)

A fine all-round display from Italy but Insigne was the conductor of the slick football played by Roberto Mancini’s side.

Often dropping deep from the front line to pick up the ball, in a similar manner to the way his coach did 30 years ago, he turned the good possession garnered by the midfield into dangerous attacks as he made perfectly timed balls to play in Immobile and Berardi.

On a rare occasion when he was the spearhead rather than the pivot he finished most stylishly. This is not an Italian side with obvious flair like some of their predecessors, but Insigne has more than enough creativity to make the Azzuri a very dangerous side.

Player ratings:

Italy: Donnarumma 6; Florenzi 7, Bonucci 6, Chiellini 6, Spinazzola 7; Barella 7, Jorginho 7, Locatelli 7; Berardi 8, Immobile 7, Insigne 8*. Subs: Cristante 6, Emerson 6, Acerbi 6, Chiesa 6, Raspadori 6, Toloi 6.

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Czech Republic: Pavlenka 5; Coufal 6, Brabec 6, Celustka 5, Boril 5; Kral 6, Darida 5; Masopust 5, Barak 5, Jankto 5 Krmenick 6. Subs: Schick 5, Soucek 6, Zima 5, Vydra 6, Sevcik 6, Sadilek 6.

Match highlights:

23′ GOAL FOR ITALY! Insigne puts in a cross which Brabec can only clear into the path of Immobile who shoots home at the near post.

43′ GOAL FOR ITALY! Barella puts in a driving run towards the Czech penalty area and then sees his shot deflect wickedly off Boril that skews over Pavlenka and just inside the far post.

66′ GOAL FOR ITALY! And a lovely one at that. Insigne tucked away with precision after Immobile set him through with a perfect knee control, turn and through-ball.

74′ GOAL FOR ITALY! They are showboating now. They won the ball high up the field and then Insigne found Berardi racing into the right hand side of the penalty area where he waited for the Czech keeper to go to ground before scooping it over him and into the net.

Key stat:

27 – The unbeaten run Roberto Mancini’s side are on.

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