After scoring the winner against Iceland last week, ACF Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was again on target as the Azzurrini defeated Austria in Forli to qualify for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs.
Austria, who needed a victory to progress, were the better side in the early stages and went close to taking the lead in the eighth minute when Christian Thonhofer put Roman Kienast through one-on-one with Gianluca Curci but the AS Roma goalkeeper managed to parry the Austrian striker's shot. Italy reacted positively and Austria goalkeeper Robert Almer was forced to make a fine diving save to stop Graziano Pelle's header following a corner by Alessandro Rosina.
Midway into the first half, Italy started to show more initiative thanks to the creativity of Rosina and Giuseppe Rossi but the Azzurrini were not decisive enough in front of goal. Much as they did in the first half, Austria started the second period well and went close to opening the scoring through Thonhofer but his shot from just outside the penalty area flashed narrowly over the crossbar.
Almer was then forced to rush out to dive at the feet of Andrea Lazzari, who had just replaced a tired-looking Rossi in attack and a minute later Curci dived to block a powerful right-foot drive by Martin Harnik. With seven minutes to play, Montolivo received a pass from Lazzari and gave Italy victory with a powerful and precise low, right-footed shot.