Italy took full advantage of being up a man against Mali by scoring three times in the second half to prevail 4-2 and reach the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Only 72 hours after their enthralling penalty shoot-out triumph against Argentina, Mali immediately faced an uphill battle against Gli Azzurrini. An Ibrahima Kone own goal in the 12th minute gave way to a straight red card for Ousmane Diakite nine minutes later after he recklessly clattered into Luca Pelligrini.
But the Malians flashed their fighting spirit to equalise twice, first via Sekou Koita in the 39th minute and again through Mohamed Camara in the 79th minute.
Italy turned to the prolific Andrea Pinamonti for goals and their No9 did not disappoint. He beat Youssouf Koita at his near post in the 60th minute and converted a penalty in the 83rd.
Davide Frattesi’s looping header a minute later gave the Italians a two-goal edge they would not relinquish. Though Sekou Koita won a penalty in the waning seconds of stoppage time, Alessandro Plizzari made a top save to cement his side’s semi-final berth.