Euro 2020: Italy win third straight match, advance to last-16 as group leaders

A first-half goal by Matteo Pessina helps the hosts beat 10-man Wales 1-0 as both teams qualify from Group A.

Italy celebrate their win in the final group match; Credit: Twitter@EURO2020
By Karthik Raman | Jun 20, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Italy’s fantastic Euro 2020 continued, with Roberto Mancini’s boys producing a professional display to beat 10-man Wales 1-0 on Sunday. The victory sealed the top spot for the Azzurri from Group A, while Wales also qualified from the group in the second spot. Italy have a perfect nine points from three matches and have scored seven goals without reply. In all competitions, Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 11 encounters. Despite having the same four points, Wales edged Switzerland to the second spot because of superior goal difference. The other side in the group – Turkey – failed to win a single match in this Euros, having conceded eight goals and scoring just one. Italy will next play the runner-up of Group C, while Wales will take on the runner-up of Group B.

The Italians were on an impressive form before the tournament and continued their fabulous streak. After winning both their previous matches 3-0 against Turkey and Switzerland, Mancini’s side had to be content with a narrow win in their final group match, thanks to Matteo Pessina’s first-half goal. Italy have already booked a knockout berth and Sunday’s match was all about securing the top spot. Wales had to beat Italy to go atop, but the home side needed only a draw at the start of the match to finish at the top. However, they did one better to win the match and qualified from the group as one of the favourites for the trophy.

Switzerland can still advance from the group as one of the four best third-placed teams after defeating Turkey 3-1 in Baku. Earlier, Italy coach Mancini made eight changes to the side and handed rest to most of his first-team players. But the team still dominated and squandered many chances throughout the match. Pessina, however, made the most of his 42nd-minute opportunity when he scored from a low Marco Verratti free-kick into the far corner.

Wales suffer big blow

Wales’ hope of a comeback suffered a huge blow at the start of the second half. In the 55th minute, Welsh centre-back Ethan Ampadu was sent off for stamping on Federico Bernadeschi’s foot. The incident got Ampadu a straight red and it hampered their chances of getting something from the match.

Despite playing most of the second half with ten-man, Wales’ best chance of equalising came in the 74th minute when Gareth Bale volleyed over the bar from close range. After that scare, Italy had little trouble in seeing out the match.

Italy had made eight changes to the starting line-up, with only goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Leonardo Bonucci and Jorginho retaining their place. On the other hand, Wales made three changes, with Ben Davies, Chris Mepham and Kieffer Moore making way for Chris Gunter, Ethan Ampadu and Neco Williams.

Since losing to Portugal in September 2018, Italy have gone 30 games without losing in all competitions (25 wins 5 draws). It equalled their longest unbeaten streak in history, which was set between 1935 and 1939. Italy will undoubtedly be a handful for any team that will face them in the knockout stages.

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