Italy U21 2-0 Hungary U21: Balotelli Stars As Okaka And Marrone Seal Azzurrini Victory

Easy victory for young Azzurrini...


Mario Balotelli took centre stage this evening, sending out a message to Italy coach Marcello Lippi as he guided the Azzurrini to victory over Hungary.

Hungary travelled to Stadio Centro d'Italia tonight for what was a must-win match for the Azzurrini, who came into the match two points behind Hungary in UEFA U-21 Championships Qualifying Group 3.

Italy started well with Inter’s Mario Balotelli quickly taking control of the game. Stefano Okaka also looked dangerous from the outset while Argentina-born Ezequiel Schelotto was finding space on the right.

Balotelli was starting to pull all the strings and Schelotto almost opened the scoring 23 minutes in, but his close range volley well saved by Peter Gulacsi in the Hungary goal.

Two minutes later, Italy’s early dominance paid off when on-loan Fulham striker Okaka jinked inside Debreceni and slotted his finish inside the far post.

Balotelli continued to drop deep and was causing the Hungarians problems every time he received the ball. It was from his pass that Fabio Borini raced clear on the half-hour mark, showing good pace to get away from his man before Gulacsi rushed off his line to smother the ball.

Italy could have doubled their lead 15 minutes into the second half when Schelotto found himself in space on the right hand side of the area, but his poor cross was easily claimed by Gulacsi.

Pierluigi Casiraghi’s side were in complete control when Francesco Bolzoni was sent off on with 25 minutes remaining after receiving a second yellow for a badly timed lunge.

Italy responded well to going a man down but they needn’t have worried as the match returned to a level playing field just 15 minutes later when Hungary defender Tamas Kadar received his second yellow card for pulling back Balotelli.

Italy sealed victory with ten minutes remaining when Lorenzo De Silvestri’s cross broke to Luca Marrone, who smashed his 20-yard shot past Gulacsi, giving the 'keeper no chance.