Portugal players

Italy v Sweden - UEFA European Under 21 Championship - Czech Republic 2015 - Group BStefano Sturaro, right, has labelled Sweden and Portugal 'dogs' after their draw knocked Italy out of the European Under-21 Championship. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

The Italy Under-21 player Stefano Sturaro has appeared to refer to Sweden and Portugal players as “dogs” after the two countries drew 1-1 to progress to the semi-finals at the European Under-21 Championship.

Related: Euro 2004: Sweden v Denmark – they said it would not end 2-2 … but it did

A win for either the Swedes or the Portuguese would have seen Italy, 3-1 winners over England in their final group game, reach the semi-finals. In the end, Luigi Di Biagio’s team finished level on points with the Swedes but are on their way home because of their head-to-head record against the Scandinavians (they lost their game 2-1).

To make matters worse, Sturaro was suspended for the game with England after being sent off against Sweden for slapping Mikael Ishak in the face. On Tuesday night, after Sweden had equalised against Portugal in the 89th minute, Sturaro tweeted: “Dogs celebrate on the corpses of lions, thinking they’ve won, but lions remain lions and dogs stay dogs.” By Wednesday morning it has been retweeted more than 800 times.

It is not the first time Italy have been eliminated after a Sweden draw in the last group game of a final tournament. In 2004, Sweden and Denmark drew 2-2 in their final group match – the scoreline required to eliminate Italy, with the two Scandinavian countries advancing. At the time, Milan’s vice president, Adriano Galliani, said: “We got as many points as the players who are blond and beautiful. But we are darker and not as beautiful.”

— stefano sturaro (@sturaro_stefano)

"Sui cadaveri dei leoni festeggiano i cani credendo di aver vinto, ma i leoni rimangono leoni e i cani rimangono cani"

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