Dubai: Italy made an impressive return to a major football tournament having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by thrashing Turkey in the Euro 2020 opener last night.
The match ended in a comfortable 3-0 win for the Azzurri at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and truth be told, they could have had a lot more.
They peppered the Turkey goal recording 24 shots in all and although they had a slice of luck for the breakthrough, the result never looked in doubt even though they went in at the break being held 0-0. But Turkey, who had defended doggedly without offering much of an attacking threat changed it around for the second 45 and it brought about their downfall. On came the adventurous Under which created space in midfield that Italy duly exploited.
Roberto Mancini’s side ventured forward at every opportunity which sure was refreshing to see as Italian teams of old have tended to be far more defense-minded and would settle for a 1-0 win. But after the unfortunate Merih Demiral put through his own net, Italy kept pouring forward knowing more goals were in sight, and so it proved.
Lazio’s Immobile, playing on his home ground, grabbed the second with a neat finish after Spinazzola’s shot was saved by Cakir and then the keeper’s poor clearance lead to an emphatic finish from Insigne for the third.
Italy treated the 16,000 fans to a vivid display of attacking football and Mancini’s men sure lived up to the pre-match hype. He has transformed them and they sure are one of the favourites to win the tournament. They were well-organised with veteran captain Chiellini as commanding at the back as ever, while their movement upfront was too hot for Turkey to handle.
There were several outstanding performances, in particular left-back Spinazzola and Berardi on the wing while Jorginho kept things ticking over in the middle. They didn’t miss Pellegrini who was ruled out due to injury but when he is back in the side, they’ll have even more energy which bodes well for them going forwards.
They will fancy their chances of adding to their sole 1968 European Championship victory while Turkey can take some solace from the fact that Portugal were hopeless in the group stages in the 2016 tourney and yet they went on to win it.
For Italy there’s no doubt that exciting times are ahead.