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Italy left it late to snatch the spoils in their UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship Group A opener against England.
Visiting coach Enrico Sbardella vowed on the eve of the finals not to betray his attacking principles and stayed true to his word. Indeed, the Azzurrine's positive approach yielded a cluster of early chances that only lacked a finishing touch. They nonetheless continued to probe and shattered England's resistance when Federica Cavicchia struck with six minutes left.
Fuelled by probing, one-touch football, it was Italy who made the early inroads, with Valentina Bergamaschi – normally so assured in front of goal – skewing wide from Flaminia Simonetti's inviting cutback. The hosts' back line was sprung again moments later, but Bergamaschi missed the target after taking receipt of Simonetti's delicious through ball.
Lois Fidler's side – competing at this tournament for the first time since 2008 – were quick to regain their composure, Chloe Kelly warming the palms of visiting keeper Francesca Durante from the edge of the area. Without the ball, Fidler's team remained meticulously organised, harrying and hectoring their opponents at every opportunity.
The hosts emerged revitalised after the interval, their early enthusiasm typified by combative forward Kelly, who fired straight at Durante after shrugging off defender Lisa Boattin on the penalty spot. At the other end, Italy schemer Simonetti fired across goal, narrowly evading Bergamaschi at the back post.
Spurred on by a 2,000-strong crowd and a brass band in Telford, England toiled in vain to provide a rousing crescendo. Instead it was Italy who finished strongest, substitute Gloria Marinelli heading over from point-blank range, before Cavicchia arrowed a shot into the corner from 20 metres.
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|1||Kirstie Levell (GK)||1||Francesca Durante (GK)|
|2||Alice Hassall||2||Marta Vergani|
|3||Lisa Boattin (C)|
|4||Mollie Rouse||4||Federica Cavicchia|
|5||Leah Williamson (C)||7||Valentina Bergamaschi|
|6||Gabrielle George||8||Flaminia Simonetti|
|7||Evie Clarke||10||Manuela Giugliano|
|8||Sophie Stamp||11||Valery Vigilucci|
|9||Chloe Kelly||13||Nicole Peressotti|
|11||Ashleigh Plumptre||18||Martina Piemonte|
|13||Sian Rogers (GK)||22||Alessia Piazza (GK)|
|12||Phillippa Cowley||5||Laura Perin|
|15||Ella Williams||9||Gloria Marinelli|
|16||Rebecca Lloyd||14||Beatrice Abati|
|17||Atlanta Primus||15||Annamaria Serturini|
|Lois Fidler (ENG)||Enrico Sbardella (ITA)|
|Sara Persson (SWE)|
|Mathilde Abildgaard (DEN), Yana Sashchyna (UKR)|
|Tania Fernandes Morais (LUX)|