Manager Jayne Ludlow says Wales matched a top-level team in Cesena as preparation for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualification campaign continues, reports faw.cymru.
Ludlow opted for a mix of youth and experience, with Emma Jones winning her first cap and Cori Williams getting her first start for Wales, while Hayley Ladd earned her 50th cap. The game was scheduled to kick off at 6pm local time but it was bought forward two hours and played under increasing snowfall.
Italy, sat ten places above Wales in the FIFA rankings, started on the front foot and came close to scoring in the opening ten minutes as Williams cleared a goal mouth scramble off the line.
The Azzurre broke the deadlock after 15 minutes as the Welsh defence struggled to deal with a ball from the right-hand side which was met by the head of striker Ilaria Mauro. However, as the half progressed Wales settled into the game and created several chances of their own. Some well worked play by Elise Hughes found Jess Fishlock through on goal but goalkeeper Rosalia Pipitone made no issue of clearing up. Fishlock came close again minutes later as her well struck volley from outside the box was parried away by the keeper.
With Wales looking like ending the half on the front foot, the Italians struck a cruel blow. As Wales conceded possession in their own half, Mauro made no mistake in capitalising with an impressive dinked finish over Laura O’Sullivan from the edge of the box.
Ludlow encouraged the side to play more attacking football in the second half and the attacking intent became obvious as Wales played some impressive two touch football in the Azzurre half and kept Pipitone busy again.
Ludlow also ensured game time for several squad members, as Grace Horrell won her first senior cap and goalkeeper Claire Skinner played for the first time in two years. Wales’ best chance of the match came in the final minute of the match. A well delivered free-kick by Fishlock was headed across the box by captain Sophie Ingle and Cori Williams was unlucky to see her strike parried away.
Italy (4-4-2): Pipitone, Bartoli (Bursi, 80), Linari (Fusetti, 46), Gama (C), Guagni (Boattin, 46), Giugliano, Galli (Cernoia, 65), Bergamaschi, Bonansea, Mauro (Girelli, 45), Sabatino (Tarenzi, 70).
Unused Subs: Marchitelli, Schroffenegger, Giacinti, Mascarello, Serturini, Bonfantini.
Wales (3-4-3): O’Sullivan (Skinner, 76), Evans, Ingle (C), Roberts (Dykes, 76), James, Fishlock, Ladd, Williams, Harding (Davies, 76), Jones (Ward, 63), Hughes (Horrell, 85).
Unused Subs: Lawrence, Nolan, Estcourt, Filbey, Wynne, Powell.