Immobile instigates slender Italy success

Italy 1-0 Sweden
Prolific on loan at Pescara Calcio last season, Ciro Immobile scored on his return to the Stadio Adriatico as the Azzurrini edged the play-off first leg.

Immobile instigates slender Italy success
Immobile instigates slender Italy success ©

Ciro Immobile scored in the stadium where he enjoyed so much success last season as Italy eked out a narrow lead from the first leg of their UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off against Sweden.

The striker, who joined Genoa CFC this summer after firing Pescara Calcio into Serie A with 28 league goals, broke the deadlock in the 17th minute at the Stadio Adriatico. The Azzurrini wasted good chances to forge a bigger lead ahead of Tuesday's return in Kalmar, but Sweden also had their share of opportunities.

Giuseppe De Luca had the first chance of the game after a pass from Alessandro Florenzi, but his initial attempt was blocked by Tom Pettersson's timely tackle. His second, after falling to the ground, was well saved by Karl-Johan Johnsson.

When the Sweden goalkeeper could only parry a dangerous free-kick from Lorenzo Insigne after the quarter-hour, Immobile was first to the rebound with a left-footed finish into the roof of the net. Sweden's response was swift, Florenzi clearing a Pettersson header off the goal line. 

Italy went close to doubling their lead in similar fashion when Marco Capuano's downward header just cleared the crossbar after bouncing in front of Johnsson. Luca Marrone's volley then whistled wide of the upright following a clever knockdown by De Luca.

Both sides continued to fashion opportunities, with Mikael Ishak, twice, Immobile and Insigne all threatening before half-time. Immobile and Insigne were again to the fore after the break, the former shooting wide with just the goalkeeper to beat to leave the tie finely poised.