Barella, Kean score first Italy goals, Ramos gives Spain winning start

Sunday, 2019-03-24 08:20:08
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Italy's Moise Kean celebrates scoring their second goal - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group J - Italy v Finland - Stadio Friuli, Udine, Italy - March 23, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)
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Midfielder Nicolo Barella and forward Moise Kean scored their first international goals to give Italy a 2-0 win over Finland in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier on Saturday.

Barella, 22, gave Italy the perfect start by scoring with a deflected shot after seven minutes of the Group J match and Kean, the first player born after 2000 to play for Italy, added the second in the 74th minute.

Italy’s first home win since they beat Israel in a World Cup qualifier in September, 2017 gave them an ideal start as they attempt to put their failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup behind them.

Finland set out to frustrate Italy but that plan had to be scrapped when a clearance went straight to Barella who met it first time from the edge of the area and a deflection wrong-footed Hradecky.

The visitors came into the game but made little headway and Italy’s Federico Bernardeschi had a penalty appeal waved away before halftime.

Italy survived a major fright in the 65th minute as Robin Lod burst down the right in acres of space and slipped the ball to Teemu Pukki who turned his shot wide from six metres.

Having got into plenty of good positions only to be let down by their final pass, Italy finally got it right when Ciro Immobile slipped the ball through to Kean and the 19-year-old fired a confident finish past Hradecky.

Nerveless Ramos gives Spain winning start

Spain's Sergio Ramos scores their second goal from the penalty spot - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group F - Spain v Norway - Mestalla Stadium, Valencia, Spain - March 23, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

Spain captain Sergio Ramos scored another “Panenka” penalty to give his side a 2-1 home win over Norway in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier but it was a far from convincing display from Luis Enrique’s side.

Spain made a slick start and took the lead at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium when Rodrigo Moreno volleyed in Jordi Alba’s cross from close range in the 16th minute and continued to dominate proceedings without carving out many clear chances.

Norway, who had done little in attack, levelled in the 65th minute with a perfectly-taken penalty from striker Joshua King, who blasted the ball beyond David de Gea after Inigo Martinez had hauled Bjorn Johnsen to the floor.

Spain earned a spot-kick of their own six minutes later when Alvaro Morata was tripped by Norway goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who Ramos easily deceived by chipping the ball down the middle of the goal to score a “Panenka” for the fifth time this season and eighth in his career.

Reuters