Impressive Italy blank Turkey
Italy waited a long time for this European Championship to start and then showed yesterday just how eager the team was to play the tournament opener.
After humiliatingly failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy were already back on track with a perfect qualifying campaign of 10 wins in 10 matches. Now Roberto Mancini’s team has started its first major international tournament in five years with a convincing 3-0 win over Turkey.
“It was important to start well and it’s satisfying for us, for the crowd and for all Italians,” Mancini said. “It was a wonderful evening and I hope there will be many more.”
Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne both scored after an own-goal from Turkey defender Merih Demiral had given Italy the lead – all in the second half.
Demiral redirected a cross from Domenico Berardi into his own net after attempting to intercept the pass. Immobile then poked in a rebound of a shot from Leonardo Spinazzola on another play that began with Berardi, and Insigne later curled one in after a failed clearance by Turkey goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakır.
Italy dominated from the start but were denied in the first half by a superb save from Cakır and a decision by the referee not to award a penalty for an apparent handball.
EXTENDED UNBEATEN RUN
The victory extended Italy’s unbeaten run to 28 matches and boosted the Azzurri’s status as title contenders.
“We played a great match and we didn’t permit Turkey to play, and they are not a weak side,” Mancini said.
The tournament, which is still being called Euro 2020, began a year late because of the pandemic.
The Stadio Olimpico was still only 25 per cent full because of coronavirus measures and fans sat in small groups safely distanced from one another. Still, the crowd of about 16,000 was the largest gathering in Italy since the pandemic took hold.
Italy appeared energised from the start and dominated possession while Turkey sat back and waited for rare counter-attacks.
In the first half alone, Italy produced 13 attempts and Turkey none.
Midway through the first half, Cakır made an acrobatic save to deny Giorgio Chiellini. The Italy captain was left unmarked on a corner and directed a header towards the target before Cakır leaped up, extended his right arm high into the air and pushed the ball over the bar with his fingertips.
Italy protested vehemently for two handballs in the match but Dutch referee Danny Makkelie ruled to play on.