U21 Qualifying round
07 September 2007 21:00 (local time) - Briamasco - Trento
Faroe Islands U21 narrowly beaten by Italian future stars
Italy U21 - Faroe Islands U21 2-1 (1-1)
1-0 Andrea Russotto 26'
1-1 Einar Hansen 31'
2-1 Luca Cigarini 81'
Italy took the lead after 26 minutes when striker Andrea Rusetto took full advantage of Sebastian Giovinco's through ball and put Italy one up. Andrea Rusetto plays for Seria B club Treviso, were he is on loan from Swiss club Bellinzona.
But just 10 minutes later, the Faroes had levelled the score when a 40 meter-effort from NSÍ Runavík-defender Einar Hansen caught the Italian goalkeeper off his line.
The Faroese team almost held out for a famous draw against the Italian stars to be - if they are not alreaddy that - but after 81 minutes, the Faroes were out of luck when Italian playmaker Luca Cigarini, who plays for Sera A club Parma, scored the winning goal with a long range effort, after the Faroe Islands hadn't properly cleared a corner.
However, the Italians did create several scoring opportunities throughout the match, but their finishing wasn't up to par. But that was also thanks to Faroese goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen, who just recently signed for Blackburn, who made a host of good saves.
With some (more) luck, the Faroe Islands could have taken a 2-1 lead before the Italian got their winning goal, but Mancheter City based Christian Mouritsen's long range shot destined into the top left corner was brilliantly saved by the Italian goalkeeper.
On Wednesday, the Faroe Islands U21 take on Greece at home.
Match-highlights of Italy U21 vs. Faroe Islands U21 Click the play-button at the bottom left to start the video (might take 5-7 seconds to load; please be patient)
After a cautious start from Greece, the first 10 minutes of the game were pretty even, but the Greeks then gradually took control of the match, although they didn't create too many scoring opportunities. - For the most, the Faroe Islands defended well, but there were a couple of times when the defense was a bit sloppy; especially in connection with the high crosses. And that's how both the Greeks goal came about.
The first came after 30 minutes when a cross from the left went straight to the head of Antonis Petropoulos on the edge of the 6 yard box between two Faroese defenders who were guilty of ball-watching on the edge of the 6 yard box, and Petropoulos's powerful header left goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen with no chance.
10 minutes later Greece made it 2-0 with another header. After a short corner on the right, the ball was crossed in front of goal where Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who wasn't marked properly,more or less unchallenged headed the ball into the back of the net.
Greece did have 2 or 3 other scoring opportunities in the first half, but goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen showed why Blackburn wanted his signature:
- On 16 minutes, Lazaros Hristodoulopoulos played a brilliant through-ball into the 6 yard box to Grigorios Makos, but Gunnar
Nielsen made a good block with his legs to keep the Greek at bay.
- On 21 minutes the Faroes were extremely close to an embarrassing owngoal when defender Sam Jacobsen headed a Greek cross onto the crossbar and into the back of the goalkeeper who reacted quickly and dived to push the ball away before it crossed the line.
- On 36 minutes Gunnar Nielsen made a diving save to deny Grigorios Makos's long range shot.
The Faroes Islands created nothing up front for the entire first half and the Greek goalkeeper never had to make a save.
The Faroes improved a lot in the second half, especially with their passing game. However, they still had problems creating
scoring opportunities. But they did create one about 10 minutes into the 2nd half:
Good combinations gave Páll Mohr Joensen acres of space and ages of time on the right, but 2 against 1 in the penalty area, Joensen played the ball straight into the defenders legs, when he tried to square the ball to Kristoffur Jakobsen who would have had the goal at his mercy, had he received the ball.
The Faroes were close again in the 89th minute when Arnbjørn Hansen stretched in front of a careless defender outside the
penalty area and lobbed the Greek goalkeeper who dived spectacularly to save the ball, but at the same time probably made the situation much more dangerous than it really was.
The Greeks on the other hand created no scoring opportunities in the second half and the Faroese goalkeeper was never tested.
However, the Greeks were in full control throughout the match and won a much deserved victory.
The date today is 12 September and that date has almost become a second national day in the Faroe Islands because it was on 12 September 1990 that the Faroe Islands' senior team beat Austria in the Faroe's first ever qualifier. And interestingly, there are some bonds from that famous 1990-team to today's U21 team. Bogi Løkin, who plays on the midfield of the U21 team, is the son of Abraham Løkin (then Hansen) who played in midfield for the Faroe Islands in 1990. And Faroese U19 defender Poul Thomas Dam is the brother of Jan Dam, who was left back for the Faroe Islands in 1990.
After Faroe Islands senior team's humiliating 0-6 loss to France yesterday, the Faroese under-21 team salvaged some pride today by beating Azerbaijan's U21.
The match as a whole was quite even, but it was the Faroese team that created the better scoring opportunities. The goal came in first half's last minute, when Magnus Olsen scored from the edge of the penalty area.
The match should have been played yesterday, but was postponed until today, because the referees that were originally intended for this match were used in the senior match between the Faroes and France yesterday, because the referees appointed for that match couldn't land in time because of thick fog at the airport. So, instead, those referees were used for today's U21 match. Hmm, that became a bit complicated...
U21 Qualifying round 17 October 2007 15:00 (local time) - Tórsvøllur - Tórshavn
Faroe Islands U21 - Croatia U21 1-2 (1-2)
1-0 Arnbjørn Hansen 3'
1-1 Nikola Kalinic 13'
1-2 Nikola Kalinic 21'
The Faroe Islands made a very bright start to the game and forced Croatia's goalkeeper into a diving save to prevent the Faroes from taking an immediate lead.
Shortly after, when 3 minutes were played, the Faroes did take the lead.
- A long free kick was knocked into Croatia's penalty area where Arnbjørn Hansen headed the ball over the stranded goalkeeper and into the goal.
Although only 21, Arnbjørn Hansen, who plays for EB/Streymur in the Formula Division, is one of the very best strikers in the Faroe Islands already. He's quick, strong with the head, has good technique and a "good nose for goals". A certain striker for the Faroe Islands senior team in the near future. – Actually, he probably ought to be there already, but maybe it won't harm him getting some experience in the U21 ranks first.
Anyway, after the Faroe Islands had taken the lead, the Croatians were quick to respond. The superior speed of the Croatian players proved difficult for the Faroese to cope with, and after 21 minutes, Croatia had turned it around and were leading 2-1. Nikola Kalinic scored both goals; the first after a good through ball which left him one on one with the keeper, and the second when the Faroese defense was outplayed and he had the last touch of the ball.
In the 2nd half, Croatia was the much better team, but wasted 2 or 3 good scoring opportunities. Twice, Gunnar Nielsen in the Faroese goal made excellent saves, and in a couple of other incidents, the shots were well over the goal.
The Faroe Islands didn't compose much threat at the other end. The closest was when the Croatian goalkeeper tipped a header from Arnbjørn Hansen over the goal.
All in all, a deserved win for Croatia, but it should also be noted, that 2 of the usual defenders in the U21 team, Einar Hansen and Johan Troest Davidsen, had been all up to the senior ranks for the matches against France and Ukraine.
After an even first half which Albania led 1-0, Albania scored 4 in the second half to inflict the Faroe Islands with their biggest loss in their short U-21 history.
Albania had the first shot on goal after 5 minutes, but Faroese goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen saved it comfortably.
The Faroe Islands had their first attempt on goal after 10 minutes when Magnus Olsen tried his luck from 40 meters, but the shot went just over the bar, although the Albanian goalkeeper probably had it covered.
Two minutes later, the Faroe Islands had their best opportunity of the match when Gudmund Nielsen went into the penalty area on the left, but his square pass to a clear Magnus Olsen was intercepted by Albania's lone defender.
Also Christian Mouritsen had a good opportunity for the Faroe Islands when his dribbles wrong-footed the Albanian defence, but his shot from the edge of the penalty area lacked power to really test Ehea Ehea Koliçi in the Albanian goal.
25 minutes into the match Albania took the lead. A long high ball played Xheyahir Sukaj clear, but although keeper Gunnar Nielsen made an outstanding save from the initial shot, Sukaj was given a 2nd chance when the hesitant defence failed to clear the rebound, and this time Sukaj was merciless.
Shortly before the half time whistle, Pætur Jørgensen went close for the Faroe Islands when the Albanian goalkeeper misjudged the cross from a corner, but Jørgensen's header went close over the crossbar.
In the second half the floodgates opened in the Faroese defence and after 12 minutes Albania had made it 4-0 before they added a 5th five minutes from time.
Sukaj made it 2-0 after only 3 minutes of the 2nd half after a cross from the left from Arber Abilaliaj.
3 minutes later Sukaj turned provider for Abilaliaj when he used his speed on the right hand side to get past the defender and made a cross in front of goal where Abilaliaj got in front of the defender to slide the ball in from close range to make it 3-0
On 12 minutes a long pass most unfortunately bounced off the heel of the Faroese defender to Sukaj who from 20 metres completed his hat trick with a thunderous shot to make it 4-0.
And 5 minutes from time, Albania completed the rout with a goal from Germard Progmi. Progmi had started the attack himself when he won the ball in midfield and surged towards the penalty area where he laid the ball to Sukaj on the right. Sugaj appeared to have lost the ball, but careless defending gave him the ball back, and with a cheeky "Maradona-pass" behind his standing-leg, he found Progmi who got in front of the defender and scored from close range.
The Faroe Islands had created only one decent attempt in the second half when Bogi Løkin with a back heel played 1-2 with Pætur Jørgensen on the left hand side, but Løkin's shot from the edge of the penalty area went close by the far post.
On Wednesday the Faroe Islands take on Italy while Albania travel to Greece.
Italy found it hard to penetrate the very compact Faroese defence and the frustrations of the Italians began to show when Fabioano Santacroce after 41 minutes was given the red card for an off the ball incident which the assistant referee had spotted.
Because of the defensive Faroese tactics, the Italian had mostly tried from long range, but those shots never bothered Faroese goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen.
However, Italy did create 3 100% chances in the first half, but they were all squandered
With the man in advantage, the Faroe Islands were getting just a little bit more forward in the 2nd half and on 53 minutes they so nearly took the lead after Kristoffur Jakobsen's surging run from midfield set up Bogi Løkin, but his shot from just inside the penalty area was straight on Italian goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.
However, it was still the Italians who were in control for the most, but still they struggled to break the deadlock. And when Faroese goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen after 75 minutes made an incredible save from a clear Nicola Pozzi after a brilliant through-ball from Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, it looked like it was going to be one of those days for Italy.
But 4 minutes later, Pozzi was given another chance to repair the damage, and this time his clear header from just inside the goal-area was executed to perfection after a cross from Paolo de Caglie on the left hand side.
Azerbaijan took the lead 18 minutes into the match with a header from Ruslan Abushev from a corner.
But the lead lasted only 7 minutes as Gudmund Nielsen equalized for the Faroe Islands when he spotted goalkeeper Salahat Agayev out of position.
However, Vugar Nadyrov restored Azerbaidjan’s lead another 7 minutes later when he was played clear with only goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen to beat. The Faroes appelaed for off side, but the referee turned down the appeals.
In the second half, Azerbaijan could have increased their lead when they were awarded a penalty after Vugar Nadyrov had been brought down, but Gunnar Nielsen in the Faroese goal saved the penalty which Nadyrov took himself.
10 minutes from the end, the Faroe Islands were awarded a penalty after Levi Hanssen had been brought down. Although the advice usually is, that the fouled player shall not take the penalty himself (Azerbaijan missed just earlier), Hanssen still stepped up to take the penalty, but he made no mistake and levelled the score to 2-2.
At the death, Sølvi Vatnhamar was close snatching a winner for the Faroe Islands from 25 metres, but the Azerbaijanis goalkeeper made a good save.