HT: Grifo and Berna inspire Italy

Vincenzo Grifo and Federico Bernardeschi scored splendid solo efforts, as Italy take a 2-0 half-time lead over Estonia.

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This international friendly was played in Florence with an experimental team, including Alessandro Bastoni making his senior Italy debut alongside Inter teammate Danilo D’Ambrosio, both unaccustomed to being centre-backs in a 4-3-3 formation. Roberto Soriano of Bologna got his first cap since 2015, but there were even changes on the bench, because Roberto Mancini was self-isolating at home after his COVID-19 diagnosis, so assistant manager Alberico ‘Chicco’ Evani stepped in.

The match was organised largely to help Italy stay in the top FIFA ranking group ahead of next month’s 2022 World Cup qualifying draw.

Italy’s early domination found a breakthrough after 14 minutes with a stunning strike from Vincenzo Grifo, as the Freiburg winger unleashed a right-foot curler from 25 metres that bent around the goalkeeper and in off the far post. It was his first senior goal in the Italy jersey on his fourth cap.

Federico Bernardeschi’s cross only grazed the head of Kevin Lasagna, taking it away from Roberto Gagliardini in a better position, but the Juventus man got the goal himself soon after, cutting inside from the right to drill in left-footed from the edge of the box into the near bottom corner through the defender’s legs. He hadn’t scored for Italy in over a year, since October 2019 against Liechtenstein.

Moments later, Estonia almost scored by accident, as a Frank Liivak cross took a wicked deflection to clip the outside of the upright.

Italy 2-0 Estonia (Half-Time)

Grifo 14 (I), Bernardeschi 27 (I)

Italy: Sirigu; Di Lorenzo, D’Ambrosio, Bastoni, Emerson; Gagliardini, Tonali, Soriano; Bernardeschi, Lasagna, Grifo

Estonia: Meerits, Teniste, Baranov, Mets, Pikk; Ainsalu, Soomets; Liivak, Miller; Marin; Sappinen

Ref: Obrenovic (SVN)

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