Italy draw against Ukraine as Genoa bridge vic­tims re­mem­bered

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Rus­lan Mali­novskiy can­celled out Fed­erico Bernarde­schi’s sec­ond half strike as Italy were held 1-1 by Ukraine in an in­ter­na­tional friendly in Genoa on Wed­nes­day dur­ing which the vic­tims of the bridge col­lapse in the city were re­mem­bered.

Bernarde­schi’s low strike beat Ukraine goal­keeper An­driy Py­a­tov af­ter 55 min­utes, but seven min­utes later Mali­novskiy volleyed in for the vis­i­tors. Italy coach Roberto Mancini spent most of his play­ing ca­reer in Genoa, at Sam­p­do­ria, and the friendly at the Sta­dio Luigi Fer­raris was or­gan­ised to raise money for those af­fected by the col­lapse of the Mo­randi bridge on Au­gust 14.

Mancini, 53, was the most capped player in Sam­p­do­ria’s his­tory and also the Genoa club’s top scorer win­ning a Serie A, four Ital­ian Cup and a Euro­pean Cup Win­ners Cup with the club. Play was halted at the 43rd minute to re­mem­ber the 43 peo­ple who died in last Au­gust’s bridge dis­as­ter, with the words “Gen­ova nel cuore” (Genoa in the heart) flash­ing up on the sta­dium’s big screens with play­ers and sup­port­ers car­ry­ing out a minute’s ap­plause for the vic­tims.

With 12,000 fans in at­ten­dance, around 105,000 eu­ros was raised for the dis­as­ter fund. For Mancini it was “a strong mo­ment of emo­tion” hav­ing lived years in Genoa and crossed the bridge many times. “It was a touch­ing mo­ment and an im­por­tant one for the vic­tims of this hor­ri­ble ac­ci­dent. Be­ing the Italy coach in my old sta­dium was par­tic­u­larly mov­ing for me.”

Mancini took over four-time world cham­pi­ons Italy af­ter their fail­ure to qual­ify for the World Cup in Rus­sia, but has just one win in six games since May, against Saudi Ara­bia. “We re­gret not hav­ing made the fans happy up un­til the end, even if we did good things,” added the Italy coach of whis­tles which ac­com­pa­nied the play­ers off the pitch.

“I’m fed up of not win­ning and so is ev­ery­one. The pos­i­tive thing is that to­day the team played good foot­ball for long pe­ri­ods. It was a friendly, so hope­fully we can start win­ning on Sun­day.”

For Italy the game was a warmup ahead of the week­end’s Na­tions League game against Poland, with the Ukraine play­ing the Czech Repub­lic on Tues­day. Paris St Ger­main mid­fielder Marco Ver­atti re­turned af­ter a long lay-off with Cagliari mid­fielder Ni­colo Barella, 21, mak­ing his se­nior Italy de­but.

Py­a­tov has made a num­ber of fine saves, clear­ing a low Bernarde­schi curl­ing shot af­ter five min­utes and a Leonardo Bonucci vol­ley. There was a dou­ble chance just be­fore half­time, as Lorenzo In­signe’s ef­fort was beaten away by Py­a­tov and a Barella vol­ley de­flected over.

But Bernarde­schi fi­nally got the bet­ter of Py­a­tov af­ter 55 min­utes be­fore be­ing re­placed by Lazio’s Ciro Im­mo­bile. Fed­erico Chiesa missed a chance to close down the game for the Ital­ians, and mo­ments later Mykyta Burda headed down for Mali­novskiy to vol­ley in.

“We de­served to score at least a cou­ple of goals tonight,” said Mancini. “Now we have four days to pre­pare for Poland and will try to give our best.”

In the Na­tions League, Italy play Poland in Chor­zow, af­ter draw­ing 1-1 against the Poles in Bologna and los­ing 1-0 to Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal. The Ukraine play the Czech Repub­lic at home in Kharkiv on Tues­day.


Ukraine’s mid­fielder Rus­lan Mali­novskiy (right) cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing against Italy in the friendly match at the Luigi-Fer­raris sta­dium in Genoa.

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