Sport Italy

Thursday 23 March 2017

Ireland's Group E opponents Italy beat Finland in final warm-up game

Italy's Antonio Candreva celebrates after scoring against Finland. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino
Italy's Antonio Candreva celebrates after scoring against Finland. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino

Lazio midfielder Antonio Candreva scored a first-half penalty and created a second goal as Italy beat Finland 2-0 in their final warm-up match ahead of Euro 2016.

Azzurri coach Antonio Conte, who is set to take over at Chelsea for next season, used the friendly in Verona to give the likes of Juventus forward Simone Zaza and Borussia Dortmund's Ciro Immobile some action, while Roma's Stephan El Shaarawy also came into the side following the win over Scotland in Malta.

Zaza put an early glancing header wide and Immobile was also lively during the opening exchanges against the Finns, who failed to qualify for the finals but had drawn 1-1 against Belgium on Wednesday.

Italy took the lead in the 27th minute after Candreva weaved into the right side of the penalty area and was tripped by Perparim Hetemaj, who plays his club football in Italy at Chievo.

The Lazio midfielder stepped up to take the spot-kick himself, converting low into the left corner past Lukas Hradecky.

Italy, who open their Euro 2016 campaign against Belgium in Lyon on June 13 and will also face Sweden and the Republic of Ireland in Group E, looked to futher press home their advantage before half-time.

El Shaarawy sent a long-range effort over the crossbar, while Leonardo Bonucci's shot failed to test the Finnish goalkeeper.

Conte changed things around just after the hour mark.

Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi replaced Thiago Motta of Paris St Germain and Juventus' Stefano Sturaro came on for Emanuele Giaccherini, who is on loan at Bologna from Sunderland.

El Shaarawy saw a goal-bound shot blocked before he too was substituted, for Roma team-mate Alessandro Florenzi.

Italy doubled their lead after 70 minutes.

A free-kick from the left was floated into the penalty area by Florenzi, from where Hradecky punched clear.

The ball dropped out to Candreva on the right and he whipped it back towards the six-yard box, where De Rossi got up to guide it inside the near post.

Hradecky produced a good stop to prevent Zaza from scoring a third goal before Conte made full use of his squad during the closing stages, with run-outs for the likes of Fiorentina midfielder Federico Bernardeschi, Southampton forward Graziano Pelle and West Ham defender Angelo Obgonna.

In stoppage time, Immobile found himself with space for a shot on goal from 20 yards, but again Hradecky was well positioned to make the save.

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