Italians held by Serbia
Casiraghi's men thwarted
Last Updated: June 16, 2009 10:01pm
Tosic: No way through
Italy Under-21s were thwarted in their opening game of the European Championship as they drew 0-0 with Serbia.
A strong Serbia following in Helsingborg saw Italy dominate for much of the game - but Slobodan Krcmarevic's side held out for a point.
Pierluigi Casiraghi's men enjoyed possession with Juventus ace Sebastian Giovinco the undoubted star of the show - but they could not find a way past Serbia's excellently marshalled back-line.
And when they did have a glimpse of goal, which was rarely, they found Zeljko Brkic in fine form.
Indeed Italy were almost caught out late on and they needed their own No.1 Andrea Consigli to be in fine form as he denied Nenad Tomovic from point-blank range.
Italy had begun the game well with Giovinco seeing plenty of the ball, predominately down the left flank.
On more than one occasion he beat his man and crossed for Robert Acquafresca, but he could not find the target or seriously test Brkic.
Brkic was tested just before the break when he had to tip over Giovinco's cross-cum-shot.
The huge talent that is Mario Balotelli then had one very good chance as he danced his way into the box before firing a ferocious effort at goal but Brkic was again there to parry it wide.
But that proved Balotelli's only real contribution for the day and he was hauled off by Casirgahi just after the hour.
Giovinco was presented with the best Italian chance of the match soon after as he was sent clear by Luca Cigarini's wonderful pass. The Juve man took the ball down, but he seemed to panic and looped his shot into the midriff of Brkic when he could and should have scored.
With about 20 minutes left Serbia suddenly came to life and they could easily have claimed the three points.
The previously untested Consigli produced a brilliant save as Tomovic latched onto Gojo Kacar's flick-on to fire at goal from just five yards - Serbia's first shot on target - but he could not beat the Italian keeper.
Then from the following corner Kacar did beat Consigli with a wonderful acrobatic volley, but the post came to Italy's rescue as it slammed against the upright and away to safety.
Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic - who showed little during the 90 minutes - did send a long-range free-kick just wide as the match ended in stalemate.
European Under-21 Championship Group A
European Under-21 Championship Group B