In view of its summer tranquility, everything had to go without a hitch. But Italy had to fight for 120 minutes to eliminate Austria in the round of 16 of Euro 2021 (2-1), at Wembley on Saturday, June 26. The Squadra Azzurra will have had to wait for extra time to finally find the fault facing an opponent who will have made them expend energy until the end. Roberto Mancini, the coach and beats the unbeaten record (31 consecutive matches) at the head of the selection. It dated back over 80 years and the era of Vittorio Pozzo, the man who had twice led Italy to the top of the world, between 1935 and 1939.
Facing Austria, the Nazionale wore two faces, sometimes domineering, sometimes stammering. After having largely dominated the first period (12 shots to one), Roberto Mancini’s players lost full control of the match after returning from the locker room. Not a single frank opportunity to bite into the second act. However, Nicolo Barella had pushed Daniel Bachmann to a parry with his foot from the 14th minute and Ciro Immobile had smashed the post with a sudden strike from outside the area (33rd).
To finally applaud this team to which we were beginning to promise the peaks, we had to wait for the extension. The light came from the substitutes’ bench and more precisely from Federico Chiesa, scorer during a Euro 25 years after his father Enrico. Rare satisfaction for Juventus Turin this season, the winger was one of the few in a sluggish Italy on Saturday. Found by the indestructible Leonardo Spinazzola at the far post, Chiesa straightened the ball with a header, before folding the ball to the ground to eliminate his opponent and continue with an unstoppable volley (95th).
What to show the way. While Italy had remained silent for more than 90 minutes, they scored two goals in ten minutes. Matteo Pessina took care of the break, opportunist with a cross strike (105th). A goal that will be important to stay safe on the reduction of the score of Sasa Kalajdzic (114th). From a diabolical plunging head to the near post despite the presence of three defenders, the Austrian giant forced the Nazionale to get a ball in his net for the first time in the Euro. As in regular time, Italy sweated well in the second half.
But the essential is there. Por the fourth consecutive edition, the transalpine selection will play a place in the last four of a European championship, after failing to reach it in 2008 and 2016 but not in 2012. AWith a sesame in his pocket for the quarter-finals, the Nazionale is now waiting to know who from Portugal or Belgium will join them.