Euro U21s Review: Italy beat Spain as Poland edge five-goal thriller
Tournament hosts Italy beat much-fancied Spain 3-1 and Poland saw off Belgium 3-2 on the opening day of European Under-21 Championship action.
A stunning strike from Dani Ceballos, named Player of the Tournament in 2017, gave Spain the lead nine minutes into the match in Bologna but Federico Chiesa scored a fine individual goal of his own to level up nine minutes before half-time.
And it was the home team who pushed on in the second half, despite the loss of Nicolo Zaniolo to a facial injury, as Chiesa doubled his personal tally by blasting home from close range when a loose ball dropped into his path.
VAR confirmed the goal and the technology was used in the final 10 minutes to award Italy a penalty for Carlos Soler's tug on Patrick Cutrone, with Lorenzo Pellegrini converting from the spot to leave Spain with work to do in their remaining two Group A matches.
2 - #Italy have won a UEFA Under 21 Championship game after conceding the first goal for only the second time in their history in the competition: the first was also against Spain back in October 1986. Start.#ItalySpain#Itapic.twitter.com/nlvjyQMe8y— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) June 16, 2019
Poland are level with next opponents Italy on three points courtesy of their narrow win over Belgium in the earlier kick-off.
Having only managed one point in their three games at the 2017 edition, it looked like being a familiar story for Poland when Aaron Leya Iseka – the younger brother of Michy Batshuayi – opened the scoring in Reggio Emilia with a deft touch.
Czeslaw Michniewicz's Poland had offered little in the opening 25 minutes, but Szymon Zurkowski scored from range to set up an entertaining second half.
A header from Krystian Bielik seven minutes into the second half was added to by Sebastian Szymanski to give Poland some breathing space and, despite Dion Cools ghosting in unmarked to pull one back, they held on for a first win in this tournament since 1986.