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Spain see off Italy to claim friendly fillip

Italy 1-3 Spain
Julen Lopetegui's Under-21 title holders overcame Italy in Siena in a meeting of two teams qualified for next summer's final tournament in Israel.

Rodrigo was on target once again for Spain's Under-21s, this time against Italy in Siena
Rodrigo was on target once again for Spain's Under-21s, this time against Italy in Siena ©Carmelo Rubio, RFEF

Reigning champions Spain defeated fellow UEFA European Under-21 Championship finalists Italy 3-1 in a Siena friendly as the competition's two most successful teams continued preparations for next summer's tournament in Israel.

SL Benfica striker Rodrigo broke the deadlock after 18 minutes to join Óscar García on 12 goals as the Spain U21s' all-time leading scorer. Seventeen minutes later Gerard Deulofeu made it two as the Italy defence were again caught on the counterattack. Samuele Longo halved the Azzurrini deficit early in the second half but the five-time champions failed to equalise despite pushing hard and were punished by Álvaro Vázquez in added time.

Italy started well but it was Spain who took the lead when Rodrigo – with 11 goals in nine qualifiers – sprang the Italy offside trap from Koke's defence-splitting pass, rounded goalkeeper Francesco Bardi and rolled the ball into an empty net.

Julen Lopetegui's side doubled their advantage when Deulofeu seized possession in midfield and sent Pablo Sarabia through. The winger, one-on-one with Bardi, passed to his right for the onrushing Deulofeu to convert the easiest of chances.

Twelve minutes after the break Longo, who plays in Spain for RCD Espanyol, struck for Devis Mangia's team with a precise right-foot shot at the far post following a cute pass with the outside of the foot by Gianluca Sansone.

If Spain went close to a third as Bardi denied Marc Bartra, at the other end Asier Illarramendi made a goal-line clearance from Mattia De Sciglio with Diego Mariño beaten, the Spain keeper later repelling Longo. In stoppage time, however, a pass from Iker Muniain found Álvaro Vázquez who outfoxed Bardi to notch Spain's clinching third.

Bardi; De Sciglio, Capuano (Romagnoli 70), Caldirola, Frascatore; Sala (Sansone 14, Sampirisi 82), Marrone (Baselli 70), Crisetig, Saponara (Donati 44); De Luca (Longo 46), Immobile (Gabbiadini 46)

Mariño; Carvajal (Tello 58), Bartra, Iñigo (Nacho 45), Aurtenetxe; Koke (Illarramendi 45), Oriol Romeu (Suso 83); Isco (Sergi Roberto 83), Deulofeu (Mayo 58), Sarabia (Muniain 79); Rodrigo (Álvaro Vázquez 58)