Cristian Battocchio played 90 minutes for Italy’s Under-21 side last night but the Hornets midfielder was unable to help the Azzurrini avoid a surprise 2-1 defeat against Romania Under-21s.

The friendly match was a chance for Italy to prepare for their vital European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Serbia and Cyprus in September but the visitors produced a poor display.

Federico Bernardeschi and Cristiano Biraghi had opportunities for the Azzurrini but slack marking at a corner allowed George Puscas to head past Francesco Bardi.

Battocchio then forced a save but Italy’s poor defending at set-pieces again proved costly when Mihai Balasa nodded in a second.

Danilo Cataldi curled home a free kick in first half stoppage time to reduce the deficit but Italy couldn’t improve in the second period and were beaten.

Romania Under-21s: Buzbuchi; Balasa (Popadiuc 66), Tiru, Boldor, Filip (Tosca 76); Iancu (Putanu 81), Cretu, Nedelcu (Serban 66), Rotariu (Bumba 66); Mitrita (Tanase 46); Puscas (Ivan 73)

Italy Under-21s: Bardi; Zappacosta (Sabelli 65), Bianchetti (Romagnoli 78), Antei (Rugani 46), Biraghi (Dezi 78); Cataldi (Viviani 65), Crisetig (Benassi 65); Bernardeschi (Longo 46), Berardi, Battocchio; Belotti (Trotta 78)