By James Kilpatrick
Italy U21s 1-2 England U21s: Dominic Solanke scores twice as Aidy Boothroyd's side impress
The Liverpool forward helps extend England's unbeaten run to 17 matches
Last Updated: 20/11/18 9:50am
Two goals from Dominic Solanke saw England U21s secure an impressive 2-1 victory against Italy U21s in a friendly in Ferrara on Thursday night.
The Liverpool forward gave Aidy Boothroyd's side the lead in the 11th minute before Juventus winger Moise Kean equalised two minutes from half-time.
Although Italy looked the more likely to take the initiative early on in the second half, it was Solanke who scored England's second, which proved to be the decisive goal, with a close-range tap-in in the 53rd minute.
The result acts as ideal preparation for England as they extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches ahead of the 2019 European U21s Championships in Italy and San Marino next summer.
Italy U21s: Audero (6), Adjapong (6), Romagna (6), Bastoni (5), Pezzella (6), Castrovilli (5), Mandragora (5), Zaniolo (4), Parigini (7), Cutrone (6), Kean (8)
Subs: Calabresi (5), Bonifazi (5), Orsolini (5), La Gumina (5), Pessina (5), Verde (N/A), Valzania (5)
England U21s: Henderson (8), Walker-Peters (7), Clarke-Salter (6), Tomori (6), Dasilva (8), Cook (7), Davies (7), Gray (7), Foden (7), Sessegnon (8), Solanke (9)
Subs: Kelly (5), Nelson (7), Dowell (7), Abraham (6), Calvert-Lewin (6)
Man of the match: Dominic Solanke
Italy had two glorious chances to take the lead in the opening minutes with both of them landing to Nicolo Zaniolo. The Roma midfielder blasted his strike from point-blank range over the bar in the opening few seconds before his tame shot from a similar distance was parried away by Dean Henderson in the third minute.
Even though Italy dominated the opening proceedings, it was England who broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. Ryan Sessegnon surged down the wing and floated a pinpoint cross towards the unmarked Solanke who nodded in from close range.
Italy were dominant in possession and they got the equaliser they deserved three minutes from half-time. Vittorio Parigini kick-started an Italy counter-attack and whipped in a fine cross for Kean who powered his header past Henderson.
Kyle Walker-Peters, Lewis Cook, Demarai Gray, Tom Davies, Phil Foden and Ryan Sessegnon all made the starting XI.
Italy started the second half brightly with Kean firing an early warning shot following a mistake by Lloyd Kelly, who replaced the injured Jake Clarke-Salter, but England took the lead through Solanke. The 21-year-old met Jay Dasilva's dangerous delivery and slotted his half-volley into the bottom corner.
The hosts had a golden chance to equalise in the 67th minute, but Antonino La Gumina was unable to turn in Kean's dangerous goalmouth cross. Substitute Tammy Abraham almost scored England's third in the 77th minute, but Emilio Audero matched it with a strong reflex save.
Henderson was called into action to make a phenomenal stop in the 84th minute to deny Patrick Cutrone from close range, but England were able to hold on for an impressive victory.
Man of the Match - Dominic Solanke
Solanke's two goals were the difference on a night when the result could have easily gone the other way if it was not for his clinical strikes in front of goal.
He may have been helped greatly by fine assists from Sessegnon and Dasilva, but his hold-up play and athleticism throughout the match also showed why he is a dangerous forward option for England.
England U21s continue their preparations for next summer's European U21 Championships against Denmark in Esbjerg on Tuesday. Italy, meanwhile, host Germany U21s on Monday night.