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England 0 Italy 1 (Cavicchia 73)
att: 2,185; at AFC Telford United
A goal seven minutes from time saw England go down to a narrow defeat to a very useful Italy side in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at Telford in their opening match of the UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship Finals.
After a nervous start to the game, Lois Fidler's shot matched their talented opponents for most of the game but suffered heartbreak late on when Federica Cavicchia's goal gave Italy the three points and England must look to bounce back against Austria on Friday.
England broke sharply down the right through Evie Clarke who whipped in a cross for Ashleigh Plumptre to head over. However two minutes later Italy should have been ahead when Valery Vigilucci made her way into the area and got past Alice Hassall's challenge before cutting the ball back for Flaminia Simonetti who missed the target from six yards.
England continued to look a little nervous at the back and a speculative pass into the area by Federica Cavicchia was not dealt with, Vigilucci latching onto the ball but she also shot wide with only Kirstie Levell to beat.
Levell needed to swift off her line to smother from Manuela Giugliano as she chased down another good ball by Cavicchia but England began to settle down and began to enjoy more possession and territory. Chloe Kelly tried her luck with a shot from around 25 yards which flew straight at Francesca Durante as they began to look more threatening.
Playing a neat passing game, Italy began to get back on top again and Rizza shot well wide following a good move, England also needing to defend a number of corners, which they duly did to see the game out with a goalless scoreline going into the break.
The first opportunity of the second half came England's way as a Jemma Purfield cross was not cleared and after missing her initial kick, Kelly tried to hit a shot on the turn but lost her footing, allowing Durante to save comfortably.
Both teams were finding it hard to make any headway at this stage, despite attempting a number of defence opening passes they struggled to do so.
However on the hour mark, Italy passed up another great opportunity to take the lead. Vigilucci whipped in a pinpoint cross for the oncoming Gloria Marinelli who sent a free header over the bar from six yards.
Cavicchia fired over after Gabriella George had blocked Valentina Bergamaschi's initial effort but at the other end, a set piece saw England go close, Sophie Stamp sidefooting her corner kick to the edge of the area for Mollie Rouse to drill a shot just wide.
However with seven minutes left, Italy made a crucial breakthrough. Marta Mascarello initially did well to break down the right and cross and although Leah Williamson made a good interception, the ball broke for Cavicchia on the edge of the area where her shot took a slight deflection and drifted into the far corner, giving Levell no chance.
England responded well to going behind and after Alice Halsall had made a strong run down the right, she laid the ball back for Clarke, the winger's pass along the edge of the area picking out Stamp whose strike was turned over the bar by Durante.
Stamp had another effort charged down, which led to a scramble in the Italian area, and Williamson glanced a Stamp corner just wide in injury time but England could not get the leveller and were left disappointed.
England Under-17: Kirstie Levell, Alice Hassall, Jemma Purfield (sub Ellie Wilkinson 77mins), Mollie Rouse, Leah Williamson, Gabrielle George, Evie Clarke, Sophie Stamp, Chloe Kelly, Keira Walsh (sub Lucy Porter 64mins), Ashleigh Plumptre. Subs not used: Sian Rogers, Phillippa Cowley, Ella Williams, Rebecca Lloyd, Atlanta Primus.
Italy Under-17: Francesca Durante, Marta Vergani, Lisa Boattin, Federica Cavicchia, Nicole Peressotti, Federica Rizza, Valentina Bergamaschi, Flaminia Simonetti (sub Beatrice Abati 80mins), Martina Piemonte (sub Gloria Marinelli 51mins), Manuela Giugliano, Valery Vigilucci (sub Marta Mascarello 61mins). Subs not used: Alessia Piazza, Laura Perin, Sara Mella, Annamaria Serturin.
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