Girelli decisive as Italy beat Argentina

Girelli decisive as Italy beat Argentina

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Valentina Giacinti put the ball in the back of the Argentina net but it was ruled out for offside
Italy are appearing at their fourth Fifa Women’s World Cup and are two-time quarter-finalists

Striker Cristiana Girelli came off the bench to head an 87th-minute winner in Italy’s Women’s World Cup opener against Argentina.

Girelli replaced midfielder Giulia Dragoni, who at the age of 16 years and 259 days became one of the youngest players in the tournament’s history.

Azzurre manager Milena Bertolini put her faith in youngster Dragoni who only made her debut for the senior side on 1 July, but ultimately it was experienced Juventus player Girelli who made the difference.

It looked as though Italy were going to be frustrated by a gritty defensive performance by Argentina before substitute Girelli, who replaced Dragoni in the 83rd minute, nodded the winner.

The vastly experienced Girelli got on the end of Lisa Boattin’s cross and looped the ball over Vanina Correa to secure a 1-0 victory.

In front of a crowd of 30,889 spectators, Italy had earlier seen goals by Arianna Caruso and Valentina Giacinti ruled out for offside.

A tetchy contest which included six bookings was stopped numerous times to allow players to have treatment.

Italy, who also included 18-year-old forward Chiara Beccari from the start, go to Wellington next to play Sweden, who have a two-point lead at the top of Group G, on Saturday (kick-off 08:30 BST).

Argentina’s next match is against South Africa in Dunedin on Friday (01:00 BST).

Youngster Dragoni plays her part

Italy have lost their way since an impressive showing at the 2019 World Cup which included wins over Australia, Jamaica and China.

They disappointed at Euro 2022 and 13 of Bertolini’s 23 players at this tournament are appearing on the World Cup stage for the first time.

The Italy boss produced a major surprise before kick-off by naming Dragoni in her starting XI – just three weeks after the youngster made her debut for Le Azzurre aged 16 years and 236 days.

She has been nicknamed ‘Little Messi’ and played her part in her country’s win with some confident touches, with the teenager finishing the match with an 86.4% passing accuracy.

While Dragoni started, forward Girelli, defender Elisa Bartoli and midfielder Valentina Cernoia – who have more than 200 caps between them and are appearing at their second World Cup – had to make do with seats on the bench.

Girelli made her presence felt after climbing off the bench to settle the match and break Argentina’s hearts.

La Albiceleste thought they had earned themselves a crucial point and looked crestfallen after Girelli struck before Florencia Bonsegundo was denied an equaliser in the closing moments by Francesca Durante.

The hunt for a first World Cup win goes on for Argentina, who have lost eight of their 10 games spanning four editions of the tournament.

Player of the match

DragoniGiulia Dragoni

Italy

  1. Squad number16Player nameDragoni

  2. Squad number10Player nameGirelli

  3. Squad number14Player nameBeccari

  4. Squad number17Player nameBoattin

  5. Squad number9Player nameGiacinti

  6. Squad number7Player nameCantore

  7. Squad number18Player nameCaruso

  8. Squad number4Player nameDi Guglielmo

  9. Squad number20Player nameGreggi

  10. Squad number8Player nameBonansea

  11. Squad number6Player nameGiugliano

  12. Squad number5Player nameLinari

  13. Squad number22Player nameDurante

  14. Squad number23Player nameSalvai

Argentina

  1. Squad number22Player nameBanini

  2. Squad number10Player nameIppólito

  3. Squad number9Player nameGramaglia

  4. Squad number3Player nameStábile

  5. Squad number15Player nameBonsegundo

  6. Squad number16Player nameBenítez

  7. Squad number8Player nameFalfán

  8. Squad number19Player nameLarroquette

  9. Squad number11Player nameRodríguez

  10. Squad number7Player nameNúñez

  11. Squad number6Player nameCometti

  12. Squad number13Player nameBraun

  13. Squad number1Player nameCorrea

  14. Squad number14Player nameMayorga

Line-ups

Italy

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 22Durante
  • 4Di Guglielmo
  • 5Linari
  • 23Salvai
  • 17Boattin
  • 6Giugliano
  • 16DragoniSubstituted forGirelliat 83′minutes
  • 8BonanseaBooked at 85mins
  • 18CarusoBooked at 25minsSubstituted forGreggiat 58′minutes
  • 14Beccari
  • 9GiacintiSubstituted forCantoreat 74′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Giuliani
  • 2Severini
  • 3Orsi
  • 7Cantore
  • 10Girelli
  • 11Glionna
  • 12Baldi
  • 13Bartoli
  • 15Serturini
  • 19Lenzini
  • 20Greggi
  • 21Cernoia

Argentina

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Correa
  • 13Braun
  • 14MayorgaBooked at 68mins
  • 6Cometti
  • 3StábileBooked at 90mins
  • 8FalfánSubstituted forIppólitoat 90+2′minutes
  • 16Benítez
  • 7NúñezSubstituted forRodríguezat 77′minutes
  • 22Banini
  • 15BonsegundoBooked at 76mins
  • 19LarroquetteBooked at 12minsSubstituted forGramagliaat 90+2′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Sachs
  • 4Cruz
  • 5Santana
  • 9Gramaglia
  • 10Ippólito
  • 11Rodríguez
  • 12Esponda
  • 17Gómez
  • 18Chávez
  • 20Singarella
  • 21Lonigro
  • 23Cháves

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