Stefano Sensi’s second international goal rescued Italy a Nations League draw as their 11-game winning streak came to an end in a 1-1 stalemate with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Azzurri arrived in Florence looking to extend their record-breaking run of consecutive victories to 12 but found themselves up against a resolute defence and undone by the visitors’ veteran Serie A striker Edin Dzeko, who scored from close range after 57 minutes.
Italy boss Roberto Mancini opted to leave last season’s European Golden Boot winner Ciro Immobile out of his starting line-up and watched as his forwards squandered the few chances that came their way.
But Sensi applied a cool finish to Lorenzo Insigne’s cross after the talented attacker teed him up in the 67th minute to avoid a shock defeat.
GOAL! Huge deflection but we don’t care! #Sensi brings us level!
— Italy (@azzurri) September 4, 2020
Federico Chiesa hit the side-netting from six yards as Italy probed for an opener and Insigne whipped a 20-yard free-kick just over the crossbar after 17 minutes.
Bosnia-Herzegovina wingers Armin Hodzic and Edin Visca made their presence felt, linking up in a fast break before the latter lashed a fierce shot high and wide from 12 yards shortly before the half-hour mark.
The Azzurri survived a scare when Hodzic rounded Gianluigi Donnarumma seven minutes into the second half before hitting the outside of the post from an extremely tight angle.
After Insigne had a close-range header saved by Ibrahim Sehic, Dzeko broke the deadlock with a simple left-footed finish into the bottom-right corner of the net having been found by Toni Sunjic’s knockdown six yards out.
Ten minutes later, Insigne’s cross found Sensi unmarked just inside the penalty area and he side-footed a low shot that took a deflection on its way past Sehic into the bottom corner of the net.
Alessandro Florenzi should have won it when he burst into the box with 19 minutes left but his low drive from 12 yards was well saved by the diving Sehic.
What does it mean? Italy’s Nations League struggles continue
Italy won just one of their four Nations League matches in 2018, finishing second in their group behind eventual winners Portugal, and their performance here suggests a similar fate may await them in 2020.
Bosnia coach Dusan Bajevic is preparing his players for their Euro 2021 qualification play-off semi-final against Northern Ireland in October and will be pleased with the problems they caused Italy.
Dzeko clinical on Italian soil
Dzeko scored in a 2-1 defeat on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s previous trip to Italy in June 2019 and repeated the feat here to earn his side a point.
Belotti fails to justify inclusion
Immobile came on for Andrea Belotti with 17 minutes left but many Italy fans will feel the Lazio man deserved to start after a laboured performance by the man he replaced.
Italy travel to Amsterdam to face the Netherlands on Monday, while Bosnia-Herzegovina take on Poland in Zenica.
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