Rome (dpa) – Italy’s national players formed a jubilant circle around match winner Manuel Locatelli and then celebrated their early entry into the European Championship round of 16 together with their blissful fans.
With a new gala appearance in the 3-0 (1-0) against Switzerland, the Azzurri were the first team to buy the ticket for the knockout round and gave further nourishment to the Tifosi’s title dreams at the European Football Championship. The team of coach Roberto Mancini passed the first tournament endurance test brilliantly in front of 14,436 spectators in the Olympic Stadium in Rome and underpinned their ambitions for the second European Championship triumph after 1968. A brace from Locatelli (26th / 52nd minute) and a late goal from Ciro Immobile (89th) made the second win in the second group A match perfect.
Italians dominated the game
“We beat a tough opponent. It was a well-deserved win, we had a lot of chances to score, ”said Italy’s coach Mancini. Locatelli, who had previously met in the selection dress, was particularly celebrated. “I still can’t believe it. At that moment I think of my fiancée and my family, “said the midfielder and added:” It was a great team effort. “
Italy have been unbeaten in 29 games and have won the last ten games to zero. The Squadra Azzurra, who will play against Wales (4 points) for group victory next Sunday, are hot contenders for the European Cup in this form. “We want to win this game too,” said Mancini. Switzerland, on the other hand, has to fear for the round of 16 after a point from two games and absolutely win the last group game against Turkey, which is still pointless.
As in the 3-0 opening win against Turkey, the Italians were there from the first minute and dominated the game. Although the Swiss opposed it in the early stages, coach Vladimir Petkovic’s team had nothing to offer offensively.
The Azzurri are completely different. Immobile had the first chance after ten minutes, but the ex-Dortmund headed the ball over the goal. Nine minutes later, captain Giorgio Chiellini poked the ball into the net after a corner out of the crowd, but the exuberant goal celebration was suddenly stopped by Bastian Dankert. The German video assistant had previously recognized a handball by Chiellini, which is why the Russian referee Sergej Karasew withdrew the hit.
For Chiellini it was the last action, because a little later the defensive veteran had to leave the pitch. For him came Francesco Acerbi. But that didn’t throw the hosts out of rhythm. On the contrary: after Domenico Berardi’s good preparatory work, Locatelli took a well-deserved lead. The goalscorer had initiated the goal with a dream pass to Berardi himself.
The rearing up of the confederates lasted only a short time
The Swiss tried to react, but couldn’t embarrass the four-time world champion. The Italians kept winning the ball early, so goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma never had to intervene in the first half. Rather, Lorenzo Insigne had the 2-0 on the foot, but Manuel Akanji from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund saved with a head just before the line.
After the change, the Swiss, who only won two of the 15 finals in five European Championships, started a little more courageously. The Italians were now attacked well in their half and put at least a little pressure. But the rearing up of the confederates lasted only a short time. Locatelli’s first attack in the second half again made it 2-0. The midfielder from Sassuolo Calcio, who is being courted by Juventus Turin, hit the corner with a wonderful low shot from around 20 meters. Yann Sommer from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the goal of the Swiss was powerless.
Remarkable: The Squadra Azzurra did not rest on the comfortable two-goal cushion, but kept looking for the way forward. Berardi (65th) was close to the third goal, but his shot just missed the target. 60 seconds earlier, the Swiss had come dangerous for the first time in front of the Italian goal. Substitute Steven Zuber from Frankfurt failed because of the strongly reacting Donnarumma. Immobile, who had previously given away two major opportunities, provided the final point.
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