Genoa victims honoured in Italy fixture

ROME – Applause rang round Sampdoria’s stadium in the 43rd minute of Italy’s friendly against Ukraine last night, in tribute to the 43 people who had lost their lives in the Genoa tragedy in August.

 The Stadio Luigi Ferraris played host to a particularly emotional night, as the victims of the bridge collapse were remembered. During the national anthems, mascots wore t-shirts with the message “Genoa in the heart," while the same words were displayed on the big screen for the minute of applause.

 Italian manager Roberto Mancini played for Genoa-based side Sampdoria for 15 years and spoke of the “strong emotion” connected with the events in August before kick-off. His counterpart, former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, was quoted as saying it was “difficult to find the words for such a tragedy,” adding that “in these moments, people must help each other.”

 The game itself was largely controlled by Italy, who enjoyed two-thirds of the possession, recording 20 shots to Ukraine’s 12. And it was the ‘azzuri’ who found the opener as Juventus’ Federico Bernadeschi capitalised on Andriy Pyatov’s mistake in goal, finding the net with a powerful shot. Ukraine quickly equalised, however, courtesy of a volley from Ruslan Malinovskiy seven minutes later.

 Neither side could add to the scoresheet again, thus extending Italy’s poor record to just two wins in 12 games. After the match, Mancini rued his side’s inability to finish off the game. It was a “good performance for an hour,” but “we are fed up of not winning,” he said in his post-match press-conference. Goalscorer Bernadeschi echoed his manager’s words, saying it was “fun to play proper football,” but that it was “a shame not to win.”