Cox's Italy Put Seven Past Russia U21's
Italy U21's Samuele Longo continued his breakout season with a goal.
Italy U21 7 Russia U21 1
Valzania (47, 67)
Cox experimented heavily in his first game in charge of Italy but still pulled off an astounding result against Russia.
Italy U21 Starting XI (5-2-3):
Scuffet, Murru, Prestia, Sampirisi, Romagnoli, Fiamozzi, Cristante, Crisetig (C), Caprari, Berardi, Longo.
Russia U21 Starting XI (4-3-3):
Gudiev (C), Sotnikov, Tskhovrebov, Lystsov, Karavaev, Netfullin, Guliev, Osipov, Buranov, Solovjov, Kurbanov.
Matt Cox's first game in charge of the Italian U21 team ended in an emphatic victory over Russia, despite the English manager using the game to heavily experiment with his starting line up. Cox was unable to pick his own 23 man squad due to taking over mid-way through the international break, but used the friendly game as an opportunity to evaluate the players that previous manager Luigi Di Biagio
winger Gianluca Caprari
opened the scoring 3 minutes into the game with a thumping strike from 12 yards out. Italy took to Cox's famous 5-2-3
tactic well and settled into the game; controlling proceedings all over the park. Juventus/Sassuolo
owned vice-captain Domenico Berardi
doubled the score with a 20 yard strike from the right wing.
striker Samuele Longo
who is on loan in Belgium
with Standard Liege
has hit 10 goals in 11 games so far this season and carried his good form into international duty as he scored a tap in from a rebound as Russia
goalkeeper Vitaly Gudiev
could only parry Bryan Cristante's
long range shot. 16 year old CSKA Moscow
striker Artem Kurbanov
scored with a cool finish when one-on-one with Scuffet
just before half time but it was merely a consolation for the Russian
Cox made 11 changes at the break, fielding a brand new team for the second half. The new players carried on where the previous 11 left off as they hit another 4 goals past a powerless Russian
team. AC Milan's
18 year old Luca Valzania
scored two minutes into the half and Rossoneri
teammate Andrea Petagna
added another 42 seconds later.
Russia had nothing in the locker and failed to register a shot on substitute goalkeeper Francesco Bardi
in the second half, and Valzania
added his second of the day on 67 minutes. Cox shuffled the team again with 20 minutes remaining meaning all 23 of his squad got some playing time in Montevarchi. Riccardo Improta
hammered the final blow with the seventh goal on 81 minutes with a composed finish as he rounded the goalkeeper and rolled the ball into an empty net.
Cox was extremely proud of the performance and said that he was impressed with how quickly his team has adapted to his tactics: "The lads were brilliant tonight. They really took the work we did in training on board and that was evident tonight, we were tight and we were ruthless. It was a shame to concede but it was a well worked goal by the Russian striker. They can return to their clubs knowing every one of them has given me something to think about when I come to pick my next squad."
Italy U21 have no confirmed friendly games in the near future but will surely look to schedule some soon before the information about next year's European U21 Football Championship