Ventura's reign begins with defeat | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 03, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:01 PM, September 04, 2016

Ventura's reign begins with defeat

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 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.

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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 performance given 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."

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.

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