Published 11/06/2021 at 18:08 GMT | Updated 12/06/2021 at 08:28 GMT
Italy produced a performance to remember in front of a fired-up home crowd in Rome to kick off Euro 2020 in style with a 3-0 win over Turkey.
An emotional evening reached an early crescendo with a short but spectacular opening ceremony that included a tear-jerking rendition of Nessun Dorma by Andrea Bocelli.
And for a while it looked concerningly like the match itself would become a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show for Roberto Mancini’s Italy side, as they were repeatedly rebuffed by a defensively organised Turkey side.
But the impressive Italians stuck to their guns and the goals that their sparkling performance merited finally came in the second half.
The first arrived courtesy of the unfortunate Merih Demiral, who turned the ball into his own net when scrambling back on 53 minutes.
And that own-goal broke Turkey’s spirits as Italy carved them open repeatedly in the remainder of the match, with strikes from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne giving Italy the margin of victory that they very-much deserved.
Turkey will hope for better in their second game in Group A against Wales on Wednesday afternoon, while Italy could effectively secure qualification with a win over Switzerland in Rome later that same day.
ROME, ITALY - JUNE 11: Lorenzo Insigne of Italy is congratulated by Roberto Mancini, Head Coach of Italy after being subsituted during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group A match between Turkey and Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on June 11, 2021 in Rome,
Image credit: Getty Images
Talking Point – Can a team this good be dark horses?
Italy went into this tournament on the back of a perfect qualification record and with a run of 27 games unbeaten, so they probably deserved to be rated as bigger favourites to win it.
But this excellent team performance means they can no longer really count as dark horses. It might only be day one but Italy have set their stall out as one of the teams to beat.
Man of the Match – Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)
The AS Roma full-back was a constant threat down the left for Italy, operating almost as an additional forward at times, stretching the Turkey defence and opening up acres of space for Insigne. There were plenty of impressive performances from the Italians, but it was Spinazzola’s relentless running and excellent movement that overloaded the attack and eventually broke Turkey’s spirits.
Leonardo Spinazzola of Italy shoots whilst under pressure from Zeki Celik of Turkey during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group A match between Turkey and Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on June 11, 2021 in Rome, Italy
17’ – Italy are really ticking now and a lovely move finds Insigne just inside the corner of the box. He looks to bend a shot into the far bottom corner, but it shaves the wrong side of the post.
22’ – Stunning from Cakir in the Turkey goal as he pulls off a terrific save to tip Chiellini’s wonderful header over the bar. So close to 1-0.
53’ GOAL! – Italy have the lead and it’s an extremely unfortunate own-goal. Italy carve the defence open and Berardi smashes a cross right into the mixer, where there’s nothing that an off-balance Demiral can do as the ball strikes him and cannons into the net. 1-0.
66’ GOAL! – Is that the game for Italy? Immobile gets the goal that his performance has deserved, latching onto a rebound save to tuck home the Italians’ second. 2-0.
79’ GOAL! – Done and dusted, and it’s Insigne who makes the game safe with a lovely finish. He’s found himself in space often tonight, but this time it all comes from a really poor clearance and a wide-open Insigne makes no mistake with a finish into the far bottom corner. 3-0.
93’ – Turkey conjure up their best chance of the game deep in stoppage time, but Yilmaz is denied at the near post by a brilliant sliding block by Chiellini. Terrific defending.
Turkey have still never got anything from their opening match of a major tournament, with a record of played seven, lost seven.
The 3-0 win made this the biggest ever margin of victory in the opening match of a European Championship.
Italy have now kept nine clean sheets in a row, their best run of shutouts since 1990.