Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina scored in extra time as Italy beat Austria 2-1 to move into the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
The win set a new national record as they extended their unbeaten run to 31 games, surpassing the 30-game streak posted under Vittorio Pozzo between 1935 and 1939.
Marko Arnautovic saw an effort ruled out by VAR in the second half as Austria threatened to cause an upset at Wembley Stadium, but substitutes Chiesa and Pessina booked the Azzurri’s last-eight spot with clinical finishes in the first half of extra time, although Sasa Kalajdzic did set up a frantic finish with his 114th-minute effort.
Roberto Mancini’s side will face the winner of Sunday’s clash between Portugal and Belgium in Munich on Friday.
— Italy (@azzurri) June 26, 2021
Italy started strongly and had seven shots before the half-hour mark, Daniel Bachmann keeping out Nicolo Barella with his feet in what was the Azzurri’s best chance in that period.
At the other end, Arnautovic blazed over from a promising position, while Ciro Immobile crashed a superb effort off Bachmann’s right-hand post from 25 yards.
Bachmann pawed away a low effort from Leonardo Spinazzola shortly before the interval as Italy ultimately failed to make their first-half dominance count.
Austria improved dramatically after the break and thought they had gone ahead midway through the second half, but Arnautovic’s deft header was ruled out by VAR for offside.
Franco Foda’s side might have thought they would have the edge in extra time given Italy’s lethargy for much of the second period, yet it was the Azzurri who struck the decisive blow.
Chiesa controlled Spinazzola’s cross in the 95th minute, cut inside Konrad Laimer and lashed a fine half-volley past Bachmann.
The Austria goalkeeper did well to keep out Lorenzo Insigne’s free-kick soon after, but there was little he could do to deny Pessina in the 105th minute, the Atalanta midfielder powering past him from six yards after skipping past Martin Hinteregger.
Kalajdzic set up a grandstand finish with a clever near-post header from Louis Schaub’s corner – ending Italy’s run of 1,168 minutes without conceding – yet Mancini’s men held firm to keep their Euro 2020 dreams alive.
What does it mean? Super subs deliver for Mancini
Italy cruised through their group in style, but a dismal second-half display put them in real danger of a first defeat since a 1-0 Nations League reverse against Portugal back in September 2018.
Two of Mancini’s substitutes ensured their Euro 2020 campaign remained on track, though, as Austria’s first appearance in the knockout stage of the European Championship ended in disappointment.
Chiesa keeps it in the family
Chiesa was only introduced in the 84th minute, but no player on the pitch had more shots on target than his two – one of which proved so crucial to Italy’s win.
That goal came 25 years and 12 days after his father, Enrico, scored for Italy in the European Championship against Czech Republic.
Sabitzer’s wayward finishing costs Austria
Things might have turned out differently for Austria had Marcel Sabitzer shown more accuracy in front of goal. The RB Leipzig midfielder had four shots – the joint-highest number of any player on the pitch – but was unable to find the target with any of them.
Key Opta Stats:
– Italy have won four consecutive games at the European Championship for the second time, previously doing so in EURO 2000 when they ended up as losing finalists.
– Austria have lost all five of their meetings with Italy in major international tournaments (World Cup and EUROs), netting just two goals in these matches.
– This was Italy’s eighth game at the European Championship to go to extra time, more than any other side in the history of the competition. Their two goals were their first goals in the additional 30 minutes.
– After managing just two shots on target in 90 minutes, Italy had four efforts on target in the first 15 minutes of extra time, including their two goals.
– Arnautovic was booked after one minute and 32 seconds, the earliest card shown so far at Euro 2020.
Italy know they will need to play significantly better when they take on either Belgium or Portugal next week, while Austria will lick their wounds before resuming World Cup qualifying in September against Moldova.
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