Pellegrini, Barella give Italy 2-0 win over Ecuador

 

Lorenzo Pellegrini of Italy celebrates with team-mates after scoring the goal during the International Friendly match between Ecuador and Italy at Red Bull Arena on March 24, 2024 in Harrison, New Jersey.

An early goal from Lorenzo Pellegrini and a late strike from Nicolo Barella gave a revamped Italy side a 2-0 win over Ecuador in a friendly at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Sunday.

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti made 11 changes to the lineup from Thursday’s 2-1 win over Venezuela, which was the first of the two matches on the U.S tour, giving more players a chance to prove themselves before the Euro 2024 finals in Germany. There was a minute’s silence in honour of Fiorentina director Joe Barone, who passed away on Tuesday.

Pellegrini put Italy ahead after three minutes by smashing home after the ball rebounded off the wall from a free-kick.

Minutes later, Nicolo Zaniolo came close to doubling Italy’s lead as he battled for the ball but his attempt was foiled by onrushing goalkeeper Javier Burrai.

Ecuador became a more attacking threat after the hour mark, with Italy keeper Guglielmo Vicario making a diving save after a dangerous attempt from outside the box by Gonzalo Plata.

However, deep into stoppage time Italy counter-attacked and Barella cleverly lobbed Burrai to seal the win. Spalletti said the U.S. tour had been positive for the team as they prepare to defend their European title in June.

“There were many events, appointments and continual journeys, so managing to put it all together the way we did between the (Italian Football) Federation and the team on the field, that makes it a very good tour,” he told RAI Sport.

“We had some good performances, there were some things we need to sort out and didn’t have much time to work on, but these games help us to analyse and then find something positive.” After scoring a last-second goal, Barella celebrated his first game as Italy’s captain and was very upbeat.

“Perhaps we suffered a bit too much in the second half, considering our quality, but that helped us and me to keep back that energy for the final sprint and joy of scoring a goal,” he told RAI Sport.

“We are getting to grips with what the coach asks of us, we are improving, there is more work to do, but we are creating a good group with players who want to give their all.” Italy have two more friendlies in June, against Turkey and Bosnia, before heading to the tournament in Germany.

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