Substitute Rolando Bianchi's added-time goal earned Italy a dramatic late point from a thrilling 3-3 draw against Denmark in Aveiro.
The holders were on their way to defeat when Bianchi fired past Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard to complete a terrific comeback after falling 3-1 down. Alessandro Potenza had given the Azzurrini an early lead, but goals from Rasmus Würtz, Thomas Kahlenberg and Leon Andreasen looked to have given Denmark the points until Raffaele Palladino and Bianchi struck back.
Italy worked the first clear opening in the eighth minute when Paolo Sammarco's low shot was well held by Ellegaard. They had been finding their range and they struck with 15 minutes played. Pasquale Foggia crossed from the right to Potenza who tapped in at the far post. The holders might have had another four minutes later, Palladino curling a shot wide after being sent clear.
Having survived that scare, Denmark took command. Gianluca Curci, preferred in goal to Federico Agliardi, had not had a save to make before, on 21 minutes, the ball fell to Würtz who drilled a low shot through a crowd of bodies and in. Italy had failed to clear Daniel Agger's corner and paid the penalty.
The height of 18-year-old Niklas Bendtner, clearly relishing this chance just one week after making his debut at this level, was causing Italy problems, but Denmark were not restricted to the aerial game. Pushing forward from midfield, Martin Bergvold’s shot was well parried by Curci before Denmark struck again on 32 minutes. Curci came to punch clear a cross but only got the ball as far as Würtz who shot at the unguarded net. Giorgio Chiellini blocked but the ball fell to Kahlenberg who rolled it in.
Denmark were now in complete control and twice in quick succession Kahlenberg then Bergvold shot narrowly wide. The neutrals in Alveiro had been won over by Denmark’s enterprising play and they had more to cheer five minutes before the break when Andreasen fired in a free-kick to leave Flemming Serritslev’s side deservedly, if somewhat surprisingly, 3-1 up at the break.
Italy coach Claudio Gentile brought on Alessandro Rosina on 55 minutes and the substitute almost scored with his first touch, rifling a shot off the post as Italy stepped up the pressure. They made it count on 61 minutes when Palladino headed in Cesare Bovo's free-kick, swinging the momentum back Italy's way. Kahlenberg, however, should have added a fourth for Denmark when clean through seven minutes from time, and Bianchi made him pay. Italy next play Ukraine on Friday while Denmark take on the Netherlands.
Carlsberg Man of the Match: Rasmus Würtz