Ventura begins life as Italy coach with loss to France

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura handed teenaged AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma his debut but began his reign with a 3-1 defeat to France in Bari on Thursday.

Ventura begins life as Italy coach with loss to France
Giampiero Ventura's Italy side slumped to a 3-1 defeat. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Ventura replaced Antonio Conte last month and pledged to carry on the good work of the current Chelsea manager following the Azzurri's impressive march to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
But goals from Manchester United striker Anthony Martial, his first for his country, and Arsenal's Olivier Giroud either side of Graziano Pelle's 21st minute strike gave France a 2-1 half-time lead.
After Donnarumma replaced Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon for the second period, the 17-year-old made one impressive stop before making his first major error for the national side.
Barely 10 minutes before the final whistle, Donnarumma came off his line at his near post to anticipate a Layvin Kurzawa drive across the Italian goalmouth, only for the Paris Saint-Germain left-back's strike to spin into the far corner of the net for his first international goal.
Ventura admitted he was “fairly satisfied” with his side's performancegiven he had spent “only three days working with the squad”.
He also gave Donnarumma a gentle hint that he could be well on the way to replacing Buffon in the near future.
“He's a player with huge potential. I wasn't going to bring him with us just to sit on the bench,” said the 68-year-old coach.
“He's young, but full of talent and it's only right he gets to experience the Italy dressing room.”

'Can do better'

It was France's first outing since Les Bleus lost the Euro 2016 final on home soil to Portugal.
 And coach Didier Deschamps said: “I'm happy, we can always do better but it's not too bad when you put three (goals) past an Italy side that gives little away.”
Italy, ousted at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2016, begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign on Monday away to Israel in Haifa.
They looked comfortable in the early stages but a defensive mix-up between Juventus pair Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini allowed Martial to pounce on the gift and beat Buffon one-on-one.
Yet Italy hit back almost immediately, Inter Milan striker Eder flying past N'Golo Kante down the right to deliver for Pelle to spin around Raphael Varane and beat rooted keeper Steve Mandanda on 21 minutes.
The goal, Pelle's fourth in his last seven Azzurri appearances, must have calmed his fears that a recent move to the Chinese Super League would harm his Italy chances.
But France were soon back in front, Chiellini losing sight of Giroud on a corner for the Gunners marksman to beat Buffon with a well-taken volley.
Donnarumma became the youngest ever goalkeeper for Italy and the youngest Azzurri player since 1911 when he replaced Buffon at half-time, and didn't have to wait long to be called into action.
Donnarumma was quickly down to smother a Dimitri Payet effort that bounced in front of him.
Ventura then introduced Marco Verratti, the PSG midfield star making his first Azzurri appearance since qualifying for Euro 2016, which he missed through injury.
But his arrival failed to produce the desired effect as Pelle nodded Antonio Candreva's cross over the bar.
Ventura further underlined his aim to inject fresh life into the Azzurri by replacing Eder with Torino striker Andrea Belotti for the final quarter hour.
But after Belotti failed to capitalise on Alessandro Florenzi's volleyed cross, France added a third.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba threaded a great ball through for Kurzawa, who beat the keeper with a curling shot after the teenager came too far off his line.

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Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Smoke bombs, flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police in Naples' historic centre on Wednesday, as Eintracht Frankfurt fans descended on the city despite a ban.

Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Three German football fans and five Italians were arrested following violence in Naples before and after Napoli’s Champions League win over Eintracht Frankfurt, a local official said on Thursday.

Six police officers were injured in violence on Wednesday evening, according to Alessandro Giuliano, who is responsible for public safety in Naples.

Police were in the process of identifying 470 German fans who arrived in the city, and were scouring images to establish those responsible for the disorder, he told a press conference.

Dozens of supporters of Atalanta also joined forces with supporters of the German side, with whom they are twinned.

The first clashes occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Naples’ historic centre, and continued after the match, an easy 3-0 win for Napoli which took them through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Smoke bombs and flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police, who responded with tear gas. Later, Napoli fans were filmed by Italian media throwing objects at buses carrying Eintracht fans.

Naples mayor Gaetano Manfredi condemned the “unacceptable” violence, while opposition politicians have questioned the government’s handling of the situation, notably by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Napoli player Juan Jesus said the disorder was “bad for the city, and bad for football”.

“Because people come, then destroy, then leave, it’s not a good thing. It’s not possible to still see this in 2023, we are sorry to see these scenes,” he said.

The German supporters had travelled to southern Italy, with many arriving in Naples by train, even though Eintracht decided against selling tickets for the away section in Naples for the second leg of the last 16 tie.

Eintracht Frankfurt fans clash with anti-riot police after arriving in Naples despite not having tickets for their team’s Champions League decider with Napoli. (Photo by Ciro FUSCO / ANSA / AFP)

The Frankfurt club decided not to take up their allocation after the Naples prefecture decided on Sunday to ban residents of the German city from buying tickets.

A earlier Italian ban on Eintracht fans who lived anywhere in Germany was overturned.

Sunday’s decision came after violence in the first leg that was won 2-0 by Napoli in Frankfurt, which led to nine people being taken into custody.

Eintracht fans have been under close surveillance by European governing body UEFA since the pitch invasion which greeted the club reaching the final of the Europa League, which they won by beating Scottish club Rangers.