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Euro 2020 – Super-subs Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina send Italy into the last 16 at the expense of Austria


Super-subs Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina scored in extra time as Italy survived a huge scare to beat Austria 2-1 and progress to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

The pair saved the Azzurri’s blushes after a fairly sterile affair with both sides lacking sharpness in the final third.

Roberto Mancini, who picked Marco Verratti ahead of Manuel Locatelli, saw his side create the better chances in the first half with the standout moment being Ciro Immobile’s stunning strike from around 30 yards that clipped the outside of the woodwork.

The Austrians defended well throughout, helped by the Azzurri’s largely slow buildup play, and they were the better side in the second half with David Alaba and Marco Arnautovic going close.

And they had a goal disallowed by VAR after Arnautovic was judged offside when he headed the ball in from Alaba’s flick on.

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Mancini threw the kitchen sink at their opponents, bringing on Andrea Belotti, Chiesa, Pessina and Locatelli, and it was the Juve man who broke the deadlock with a well taken strike at the back post for his second international goal.

Atalanta’s Pessina looked to have sealed the game with a strike from close range a few minutes later.

Sasa Kalajdzic netted for Austria in the second half of extra time with a header from a corner but the Italians held on to set up a last eight clash with either Belgium or Portugal.

TALKING POINT

Mancini’s side relies on his bench to get his side out of trouble.

The Azzurri were unable to unlock a stubborn defence after 90 minutes but to his credit the Italian boss made a host of substitutions towards the end of the game and they made the difference. The former Manchester City boss has used his squad well throughout this tournament, using 25 of the 26 players, and it came up trumps again. Austria worked their socks off with their pressing and in hindsight should have brought some more fresh legs on at the start of extra time.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Xaver Schlager (Austria): The Wolfsburg man won the midfield battle with his pressing, tire workrate and tackling. He did not give Italy’s creative players an inch of space for 90 minutes.

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PLAYER RATINGS

ITALY: Donnarumma 5, Di Lorenzo 7, Spinazzola 8, Acerbi 5, Bonucci 5, Verratti 5, Jorginho 6, Barella 6, Insigne 5, Berardi 4, Immobile 6. Subs: Locatelli 5, Pessina 7, Chiesa 8, Belotti 6, Cristante n/a.

AUSTRIA: Bachmann 7, Dragovic 6, Hinteregger 8, Alaba 7, Lainer 6, Sabitzer 6, Grillitsch 5, Baumgartner 6, Schlager 8, Laimer 6, Arnautovic 7. Subs: Schopf n/a, Kalajdzic n/a, Gregoritsch n/a, Schaub n/a.

KEY MOMENTS

32′ – WOODWORK! Immobile with a long-range dipping strike which clips the top of the post.

65′ – DISALLOWED GOAL FOR AUSTRIA! Arnautovic heads it in from close range from Alaba’s nod on but looks offside.

95′ – GOAL FOR ITALY! Its the supersub Chiesa at the back post with a neat flick and a half volley.

105′ – GOAL FOR ITALY! Another sub, Pessina fires in from close range after the ball ricochets to him.

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114′ – GOAL FOR AUSTRIA! Goal for Kalajdzic with a header from a corner at the near post. Game on!

KEY STAT

Italy are unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with Austria in all competitions (W10 D3), since a 1-2 friendly loss in 1960.



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