Euro 2020: Italy super subs finally sink Austria

by | Jun 26, 2021 22:34

Italy needed extra time to get past Austria 2-1 with goals from substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina, but book their spot in the Euro 2020 Quarter-Final.

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The Azzurri went into this Round of 16 tie at Wembley Stadium unbeaten in a joint-record 30 games, with 11 consecutive victories accompanied by clean sheets. Giorgio Chiellini and Alessandro Florenzi were injured, so Francesco Acerbi and Giovanni Di Lorenzo stepped in, with Marco Verratti preferred to Manuel Locatelli. Austria qualified by beating North Macedonia and Ukraine in the group phase, reaching the knockouts for the first time in a major tournament since 1982.

Although it was Italy’s first game outside Rome, it felt like a home fixture, with most of the 22,000 locals supporting the Azzurri.

Lorenzo Insigne’s right-foot curler was well smothered, but Bachmann had to use his legs to parry a Nicolò Barella strike off the outside of the boot, while Marko Arnautovic blazed over the bar.

Ciro Immobile thought he’d scored on 32 minutes, but his swerving stunner from 20 metres out cracked against the far top corner of the crossbar.

Bachmann also had to palm a Leonardo Spinazzola effort round the base of the upright, as Italy dominated the first half, but were unable to find the breakthrough.

Aleksandar Dragovic made a decisive block on Berardi’s assist for Insigne, while Arnautovic scuffed his finish after getting past Francesco Acerbi following a Bonucci error.

David Alaba’s free kick skimmed the crossbar and the same player got back in time to stop Berardi tapping in the Insigne assist.

It was increasingly scrappy and frantic, Marcel Sabitzer’s strike deflected wide off Bonucci and Austria had the ball in the net on 65 minutes when Alaba nodded it down for an Arnautovic header off the underside of the bar. It would’ve been the first goal Italy had conceded in over 1,100 minutes of football, after 11 consecutive clean sheets, but VAR came to their rescue with a narrow offside call.

With Barella already on a yellow card, the Inter midfielder and Verratti made way for Manuel Locatelli and Matteo Pessina. Insigne and Locatelli curled wide, but Berardi wasted a huge opportunity created by Spinazzola by attempting an acrobatic volley when he had time to control.

Unable to find a breakthrough, it went to extra time at Wembley. Federico Chiesa had a shot well smothered, but it was only a warning. Spinazzola’s wonderful ball found him at the back post, he chested it down, with a right-foot flick committed Stefan Lainer and smashed in from a tricky angle with his left boot on the half-volley. It was only the Juventus winger’s second ever senior Italy goal.

Bachmann prevented 2-0 with a spectacular fingertip save on Insigne’s free kick that was flying into the near top corner.

Moments later, Spinazzola’s inspired floated pass found Insigne, then Acerbi couldn’t get the shot away from six yards, but he did manage to hold off the defender and lay it off for Matteo Pessina to smash in from a tricky angle for 2-0.

It wasn’t over, because Michael Gregoritsch forced a desperate one-handed Donnarumma save with his first touch, a ferocious strike that was going into the near bottom corner.

Belotti horribly scuffed when sent clear by Chiesa and Di Lorenzo blasted wide after a run from his own half, while Sabitzer had a double chance from close range.

Italy did eventually concede after 11 consecutive clean sheets, as Sasa Kalajdzic got to a Louis Schaub corner at the near post with a diving header that squirmed past everyone.

Chiesa could’ve had a third on the counter when his lob beat Bachmann, but was cleared off the line.

Italy 2-1 Austria aet

Chiesa 95 (I), Pessina 105 (I), Kalajdzic 114 (A)

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Bonucci, Spinazzola; Barella (Pessina 67), Jorginho, Verratti (Locatelli 67); Berardi (Chiesa 84), Immobile (Belotti 84), Insigne (Cristante 108)

Austria: Bachmann; Lainer (Trimmel 114), Hinteregger, Dragovic, Alaba; Grillitsch (Schaub 106); Laimer (Ilsanker 114), X Schlager (Gregoritsch 106), Sabitzer, Baumgartner (Schopf 89); Arnautovic (Kalajdzic 97)

Ref: Taylor (ENG)

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