Italy coach Daniele Zoratto was unable to contain his delight after watching his side secure a place in their first UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, thanks to their 2-0 semi-final victory against the host nation. Slovakia coach Ladislav Pecko was downbeat post-match in the Štadión MŠK Žilina, but showered his charges with praise after they defied the odds to make the last four on their finals debut.
Meanwhile, goalscorers Elio Capradossi and Mario Pugliese were beaming after the game with the knowledge they are 80 minutes away from lifting the trophy on Friday. "We are in the final now, everything is perfect," announced the delighted Capradossi.
Ladislav Pecko, Slovakia coach
Of course I am sorry for the boys that they did not reach the final, but we almost created a miracle in Slovakian football and reached the final. We were close and I am enormously happy for that, and I have to praise the boys. The early goal affected us for sure. There was nervousness and we were disorganised in defence. We made stupid mistakes at the back and because of that were unable to attack and the Italian forwards were too good for our defence today. In football, you need some luck, which we did not get. We are a bit disappointed, we will maybe cry a little, be a bit sad, but then we will enjoy it. I think the players deserve a lot of credit.
Daniele Zoratto, Italy coach
I hope the final will be beautiful with good football, even if the games are mounting up and the players, I think mine and also the others, will pay a bit physically. But to have reached the final, the first in Italy's history at Under-17 level, gives us reason to be satisfied and proud. Obviously these lads deserve credit for having always believed and for having fought to the end to obtain it. All we have to do now is prepare for the final.
In football, it is said that if you waste chances, then you pay. I did not want to pay after missing two one-on-one chances with the goalkeeper, and then there was one from [Alberto] Cerri which was cleared off the line. It could have been 3-0 or 4-0 at half-time. When you waste lots of chances and it is still 1-0, it does not necessarily mean it is going to end that way. You have to suffer to the end. Capradossi's goal liberated us because we noticed that they did not have much energy left. They were giving it everything they could and, when you play like that, you lose precision. We realised that we had our place in the final in our hands.
Elio Capradossi, Italy defender
It is an amazing atmosphere. We are all delighted. It is the first time Italy have reached this final so we have written history with our national team. We are full of pride. It is incredible, we are living a dream, and then to score two goals in a competition as big as this, for a central defender, is something fantastic. They were very aggressive, compact and they were the home team. It was no accident that they reached the semi-finals. But we did well, we have won 2-0 and we are in the final so everything is perfect.
Mario Pugliese, Italy midfielder
It is my second important goal, but more than for myself, I am delighted for the whole squad because, in the end, the results are arriving after two years of work and to get to the final for the first time in the history of the Italy Under-17s is something fantastic. We are all really charged up. We wanted this final at all costs and we are pleased to have made it, but now everything is up for grabs in the final because it is a chance which only comes around once in a lifetime. In truth, at the start with Atalanta BC, I was taken on as a striker but slowly and surely, they moved me back, which is lucky really. Now I play in midfield, but I still have the instinct to go forward.
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