Italy made a big comeback to major tournament football by opening Turkey to Euro 2020 with a comfortable 3-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Azzurri have since been rebuilt under Roberto Mancini, who appears to have transformed them into a credible force that could cope with one of the competition’s supposed dark horses with relative ease.
Not that it all went smoothly. Andrea Bocelli’s pre-match rendition of ‘Nessun Dorma’ or ‘let no one sleep’ in English was seemingly ignored during a dismal first half, although Italy on a flashpoint denied a penalty just before half-time.
Mancini’s side finally opened the scoring shortly after the break when Juventus defender Merih Demiral scored his own goal, and given Turkey’s lack of threat, subsequent strikes from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne may not be necessary.
According to Stats Perform’s Styles of Play model, Turkey relied on counter-attacks 26 percent more than the average in qualifying, and their deep formations contributed to a cautious opening.
But Italy started investigating with more intent and saw Insigne shoot Immobile in the 17th minute just after a one-two, before Giorgio Chiellini – now the oldest fielder to ever start a major tournament for the Azzurri – made a beautiful received rescue from Ugurcan Cakir with a powerful head.
At the time, Turkey was fortunate not to accept the penalty before half-time, the VAR thought when there was no obvious mistake when Zaki Salik took over Leonardo Spanzola’s cross.
Despite Cengiz Under’s intervention at halftime, Turkey’s game plan did not change and Italy rightfully scored in the 53rd minute and Domenico Berardi left Umut Meras behind and sent the ball that Demiral sent to her own goal.
Çakır failed to catch Spinazzola’s shot and Immobile was coolly ready to rebound 2-0 an hour later.
And for the first time in the history of the European Championship finals, Insigne finished it all 11 minutes after Azzurri Nin scored three goals in a single game, stumbling upon Immobile.