Scotland Under 21s 1 Italy Under 21s 4

25 April 2012 08:55
Not as bad as it appears from the result but you feel for the players none the less.

Scotland Under 21s welcomed their Italian counterparts to a blustery Easter Road and not the weather the visitors are used to. However, it was the Italian who drew first blood. Not the best start to lose a goal in the seventh minute but Scotland weathered that storm to settle down again and threaten the visitors goal on occasion in the first 15 minutes. The goal was simplicity itself with the ball breaking out to the right of the penalty area to be popped back for Assesandro Florennzi to drop it neatly past Mark Ridgers left hand and into the corner of the net. There was always more urgency about the Italians as they probed to increase their lead but the referee's assistant was on hand to halt their progress with his offside flag on a number of occasions. Scotland were no slouches as they used the right wing to test the stout Italian defence. Ridgers shook of the goal and made a few brave saves at the feet of the onrushing visiting attackers. Scotland showed they were not there just to make up the numbers when in the 28 minute when Gary Mackay-Stevens rattled the left hand post of Simone Colombi in the Italian goal with a stinging drive from just out side the box. Hoever he had to wait just 4 minutes before he was on the scoresheet. Jonathan Russell worked some magic on the right of the box to beat two defenders before pulling the ball back to an unmarked Mackay-Stevens to slot home as the goalie tried to recover his position. Scotland were warming to the task with the right hand side still the preferred route to goal. This time it was David Wotherspoon feeding Russell whose shot was tipped round the post by Colombi. At least he had warm hands as the chill wind was swirling round the Easter Road stand. haf time came along with the score at 1-1. Changes at half time had to be doubled when Grant Adam who had replaced Ridgers in goal was stretchered off after a minute following his first touch of the ball. He was replaced by Matthew Edwards. Just 10 minutes into the second half and Edwards was picking the ball out of the net after Marco Verratti found spec just outside the box to fire the ball home. The second half was filled with replacements as per usual in a friendly with both sides having at least eight on the bench. Most fans were waiting for Islam Feruz to make his under 21 debut and coach Billy Stark put him on  on place of Scott Allan. As the game carried on we heard an update on the Adam injury which was not as bad as first feared. The e had been hit in the mouth so was replaced as precautionary measure with his head secured. We eventually saw some slick stuff from Feruz who did not look out of place at the higher level. A gentle nudge of the ball nearly had fellow substitute Dylan McGeouch through on the keeper but Giulio Donati thwarted his route to goal. However, it was Italy who changed the score -line when a free-kick on the edge of the box was floated into the top corner by Lorenzo Insigne to make it 1-3 to the visitors. Scotland seemed to have lost their way as we reached the 80 minute mark with the Italians spending more and more time in the home side's half. Feruz was a lonely figure surrounded by the giants of the four man last line of Italian defence. However, with his low centre of gravity he is a hard man to push off the ball as he proved as he drove at the defence before hitting an under powered shot on goal. More changes for both side disrupted the flow of the game and we should only really judge the sides on the first half performance. The visitors scored the final goal of the game when Samuele Longo fired in from long range but I do not think the young Scots should be too down-hearted as they showed in the first half that they can play a bit to say the least. Their heads did not go down when they went a goal down and they kept on fighting right to the end. Scotland: Ridgers, Jack, Hanlon, Wilson, Perry, Kelly, Russell, Wotherspoon, MacDonald, Allan, Mackay-StevensSubs: Adam. Edwards, Toshney, Shinnie, McCabe, Palmer, McLean, Armstrong, McGeouch, Feruz Italy: Colombi, Donati, Crescenzi, Rossi, Capuano, Caldirola, Sansone, Florennzi, Immobile, Verratti, InsigneSubs: Pinsoglio, De Sciglio, Antei, Criomi, Viviani , De Luca, Forestieri, Longo