England 1-2 Italy Left-back Federico Dimarco scored in each half, a clinically-taken penalty and an expert free-kick, as Italy reached a first U19 final in nine years.
Article top media content
- Italy produce clinical display in Mannheim to defeat England in first semi-final
- Federico Dimarco's penalty gives Paolo Vanoli's side the lead (27)
- Left-back doubles Azzurrini's advantage with expert free-kick (60)
- Alberto Picchi's late own goal sets up tense finale (85)
- Italy seeking first U19 title since 2003; in first final since 2008
- Italy will play Portugal or France on Sunday at 20.30CEST
The set-piece expertise of Federico Dimarco proved the difference in the first UEFA European Under-19 Championship as Italy produced a clinical display to beat England in Mannheim.
England won all three Group B games and accordingly began full of confidence, Isaiah Brown – who scored twice in the group stage – putting one header over and having another attempt charged down.
Twenty-seven minutes in, however, Fikayo Tomori took a heavy touch on the edge of the area and, in attempting to retrieve possession, was adjudged to have fouled Andrea Favilli. Dimarco sent Freddie Woodman the wrong way from the spot.
England pressed for an equaliser but were undone again on the hour, again from a set-piece, and again by Dimarco, who curled a beautiful 20-metre free-kick beyond Woodman.
Italy looked to be holding on in comfort, but had to endure a late scare when an attempted clearance hit Alberto Picchi's shoulder and looped in.
Dimarco on the spot again
Italy scored only three goals in the group stage, and Federico Dimarco contributed two of them – both from the spot. The Empoli left-back was at it again here, nervelessly burying his chance; four goals in this season's competition, all penalties, at least until he showed he takes a mean free-kick as well.
Italy's narrow approach
England enjoyed plenty of joy when they got the ball wide, with right-back Jonjoe Kenny delivering a number of dangerous crosses into the penalty area. Too often, however, Italy managed to force play down the centre of the pitch, where their well-organised defence mopped up.
Defending from the front
Italy's game plan was clear from the outset, with the England back four harried and allowed little time on the ball. Strikers Andrea Favilli and Giuseppe Panico led from the front, working tirelessly to close down space and restrict opportunities to build attacking moves.