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Veretilo strikes late as Belarus stun Italy

Belarus 3-0 Italy (aet, agg: 3-2)
Belarus are through to the finals after Oleg Veretilo's extra-time strike turned the tables on Italy in Minsk.

Belarus are through to the finals
Belarus are through to the finals ©Getty Images

Belarus pulled off the shock of the play-offs by overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit against five-time champions Italy to reach the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals 3-2 on aggregate.

Trailing from Friday's 2-0 loss in Rieti, Belarus drew level on aggregate within five minutes of kick-off at the Gorodskoy Stadion in Minsk thanks to a pair of Vladimir Yurchenko strikes. With the tie in the balance, they then sealed their progress thanks to Oleg Veretilo's goal in the sixth minute of extra time.

Italy coach Pierluigi Casiraghi was forced into making two changes from the first leg, with captain Lorenzo De Silvestri and Ezequiel Schelotto both suspended, and his side were caught flat-footed as Belarus flew at them from the start.

Four minutes in, Maksim Skavysh dispossessed Italy goalkeeper Vito Mannone before setting up Yurchenko to fire into the empty net, and just a minute later the aggregate scores were level when the 21-year-old finished neatly after Dmitri Rekish's telling pass.

The pace slowed thereafter and Italy began to come more into the game, even if genuine chances were rare. As both sides kept risks to a minimum it was no surprise to see the second half finish goalless, but early in the first period of extra time the hosts struck again.

Pavel Nekhaychik sent Veretilo clear in the box and the striker slipped the ball past Mannone to put Belarus in front for the first time in the tie. A goal would still have been enough to take Italy through on the away-goals rule, but the Azzurrini's chances evaporated when Stefano Okaka's lob struck the bar late on.