Dragged into overtime, Italy snatched a narrow 2-1 victory against Austria, in the round of 16 of Euro 2021. La Nazionale will face, in quarters, the winner of Belgium-Portugal.
This is the first “surprise” of the final phase of the Euro. Italy had to fight until overtime to snatch the 2-1 victory in their round of 16 of Euro 2021 against Austria, this Saturday evening at Wembley (London). It took Federico Chiesa, 23, re-elevation of Juventus this season, to come into play and succeed in a splendid sequence in the area to deliver his own in the 95th minute. In the process, the Nazionale gave itself a little more air thanks to Matteo Pessina (105th), before trembling for the last five minutes because of Sasa Kalajdzic (114th).
By setting the second international goal of his career, Federico Chiesa is a little more in the footsteps of his father. 25 years earlier, during Euro 1996 against the Czech Republic, Enrico Chiesa had also managed to score the second goal of his career with the national jersey.
Arnautović had nevertheless scored …
Italy is therefore the second team to qualify for the quarter-finals, after Denmark who demonstrated against Wales. The Italians’ opponent will be the winner of Sunday night’s long-awaited clash between Belgium and Portugal (9 p.m.).
But Squadra Azzura, impressive throughout the group stage, disappointed greatly throughout regulation time. She even experienced a nightmare for 130 seconds, which is how long it took for the referee and his video assistants to cancel the Austrian scoring opener from Marko Arnautović in the 64th minute. This goal from the 32-year-old striker – who did not fail to be demonstrative and vehement in his celebration – would have punished the ineffective possession of the Nazionale. It had also come, through the fault of Domenico Berardi, to nullify a superb counter opportunity.
Certainly, Austria did a great job in defense to erase all the spaces in the center. But the Italians should have done better in the construction of the attacks, especially during the first period which they ended with 11 shots against 1. Ciro Immobile, very discreet, nevertheless almost made the difference with an unexpected strike from 25 meters which crashed into the frame (32nd).
Mancini can lean on his bench
Faced with an Austrian selection so focused on defense, perhaps also that the tenure of Marco Verratti, not very decisive in the last opposing meters, was not the most relevant. Roberto Mancini also released it just after the fright Marko Arnautović to bring in Manuel Locatelli, man of the match facing Switzerland.
This change paid off, given the sharp service from Sassuolo’s midfielder which allowed Leonardo Spinazzola to be the decisive passer on the first goal. More generally, the coach could only be satisfied with the depth of his group, given that Matteo Pessina and Federico Chiesa also came off the bench. On the other hand, he will undoubtedly be disappointed to have conceded a goal, which thus breaks this succession of clean-sheets which had lasted for 11 games and more precisely October 2020.
Italy’s quarter-final against the winner of Belgium-Portugal will take place in Munich on Friday July 2 from 9 p.m. In the event of victory, the semi-final of July 6, in London, could very well be against France if it climbs there.