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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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SPORT

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics were Italy's best Games yet, with Italian athletes taking home more medals than ever before. Here are the highlights.

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after winning golds in the 100m sprint and high jump. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

With ten golds, ten silvers and 20 bronzes, the Azzurri representing Italy in Tokyo were tenth on the medal table overall and top in Italian sporting history.

Previously the most medals Italy had ever won at a single Olympics was 36, which the country hadn’t equalled since the Rome Games in 1960.

READ ALSO: ‘Do Italy just win everything now?’: Celebrations after Italian athletes take Olympic gold

As well as a ceremony at the presidential palace in September, Italy’s Olympic champions will be welcomed back with prize money from the Italian National Olympic Committee: gold medalists are awarded €180,000 each, while silver medallists get €90,000 and bronze medallists get €60,000.

And then there’s the glory: after an exceptionally successful summer of Italian sport and music, Italy’s Olympic team dubbed their athletes “stupor mundi” – Latin for ‘the wonder of the world’. 

Italy’s gold medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Men’s high jump: Gianmarco Tamberi

Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi couldn’t have been happier to share the gold with his fellow competitor Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, in what was hailed as one of the most touching moments of the Games. 

Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP
  • Men’s 100m: Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Relatively unknown long jumper-turned-sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs was in the form of his life when he outran the favourites and hurtled to first place in the biggest race in men’s athletics. He’s the first Italian ever to qualify for the Olympic final of the event, let alone win it.

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 4 x 100m relay 

Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu pulled off an astonishing victory by the smallest of margins, with Tortu flinging himself over the finish line to snatch gold from the favourites, Great Britain, by just a hundredth of a second. It was another historic first for Italy: the country has never before won the event, and the last time an Italian team got onto the podium was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (silver). 

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 20km race walk: Massimo Stano
  • Women’s 20km race walk: Antonella Palmisano

Antonella Palmisano cemented Italy’s domination of the walking competition when she followed up her teammate Massimo Stano’s gold with her own victory a day later. She actually performed slightly faster at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but that time only earned her fourth last time round.

Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
  • Track cycling, men’s team pursuit

Italy’s four-man team set a new track cycling world record by completing 16 laps (4km) in just 3:42.032. While Great Britain had long dominated the event and Denmark were reigning World Champions, no Italian team had won it since the Rome Olympics of 1960.

Photo by Greg Baker / AFP
  • Karate, men’s kumite -75kg: Luigi Busa
  • Rowing, lightweight women’s double sculls 
Valentina Rodini (L) and Federica Cesarini (R) celebrate their win in the lightweight women’s double sculls final. Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP
  • Sailing, mixed multihull – Nacra 17 foiling
  • Taekwondo, Men’s -58kg: Vito Dell’Aquila

Vito Dell’Aquila won Italy its first gold of the Games, at the age of just 20. It was his first Olympics but at this rate, it won’t be his last.

Photo by Javier SORIANO / AFP

Italy’s silver medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise: Vanessa Ferrari

Arguably Italy’s greatest competing gymnast, 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari proved the value of experience when she became the first Italian to win an individual Olympic medal for women’s artistic gymnastics.

Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP
  • Men’s individual archery: Mauro Nespoli
  • Men’s kayak single 200m: Manfredi Rizza
  • Fencing, men’s foil individual: Daniele Garrozo
  • Fencing, men’s sabre individual: Luigi Samele
  • Fencing, men’s sabre team

Fencing has long been one of Italy’s strongest sports, and these Games were no exception. Altogether Italian fencers took three silvers and two bronzes in both team and individual events. 

Italy’s Luca Curatoli (L) competes against South Korea’s Gu Bongil in the men’s sabre team gold medal bout. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
  • Women’s skeet shooting: Diana Bacosi
  • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay
  • Swimming, men’s 800m freestyle: Gregorio Paltrinieri 
  • Weightlifting, women’s 64kg: Giorgia Bordignon
    Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

    Italy’s bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics

    • Women’s individual archery: Lucilla Boari
    • Women’s featherweight boxing: Irma Testa

    Irma “Butterfly” Testa made history as the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing, a victory she dedicated to all of Italy’s female boxers.

    Photo by Luis ROBAYO / POOL / AFP
    • Women’s cycling road race: Elisa Longo Borghini 
    • Track cycling, men’s omnium: Elia Viviani 
    • Men’s 10km marathon swimming: Gregorio Paltrinieri 

    Gregorio Paltrinieri is one of the best long-distance swimmers there is, holding the men’s world record for the 1500m freestyle. He comes home from Tokyo with two medals: silver in the 800m freestyle, and bronze in the gruelling 10km swim.

    Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
    • Swimming, men’s 100m breaststroke: Nicolo Martinenghi
    • Swimming, men’s 100m butterfly: Federico Burdisso
    • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m medley relay
    • Swimming, women’s 800m freestyle: Simona Quadarella 
    • Judo, women’s -52kg: Odette Giuffrida
    Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP
    • Judo, women’s -63kg: Maria Centracchio
    • Fencing, women’s épée team
    • Fencing, women’s foil team 
    • Karate, women’s kata: Viviana Bottaro

    Accomplished karateka Viviana Bottaro won Italy its first Olympic medal in karate, which made its debut at the Tokyo Games. 

    Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
    • Rowing, lightweight men’s double sculls
    • Rowing, men’s four
    • Rhythmic gymnastics, group all-around

    Nicknamed le Farfalle (‘the Butterflies’), Italy’s five-woman rhythmic gymnastic team provided one of Italy’s last medal-winning performances on the final day of the Games, and one of the most spectacular.

    Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
    • Weightlifting, men’s 67kg: Mirko Zanni 
    • Weightlifting, men’s 81kg: Antonino Pizzolato
    • Wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg: Abraham de Jesus Conyedo Ruano 
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