Euro 2020: Italy beats Austria 2-1 with overtime goals to reach last eight
Italy survived a massive scare by beating the Austrian underdog in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals with substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina scoring overtime goals to earn him a 2-1 win at Wembley on Saturday.
The Azzurri had looked like the fit squad in an impressive group stage, but Roberto Mancini’s side shot poorly as they left their Roman fortress for the first time in the tournament and looked in danger of a shock exit .
Austria, who were playing in the European Championship knockout stage for the first time, sidelined the Italians in the second half and scored a Marco Arnautovic goal after a VAR intervention.
Highlights Italy vs Austria
Mancini sent in four attacking substitutes late in the second half and the Italian side’s depth proved decisive at the end as Juventus winger Chiesa and Atalanta Pessina midfielder spared their blushes with superb finishes.
Chiesa fought off Daniel Bachmann in the 95th minute and Pessina, who also scored against Wales, appeared to have sealed the win 10 minutes later with another clinical strike.
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But a brave Austria got a late lifeline when substitute Sasa Kalajdzic halved the lead with six minutes to go and Italy’s nerves were on edge as referee Anthony Taylor blew the final whistle.
Italy’s 31st game unbeaten – a new national record – sent him to the quarter-final against Belgium or Portugal when he will have to play much better.
The Azzurri had made their way through their group games in Rome, scoring seven unanswered goals, and Mancini’s side started smooth on a perfect night for football.
With powerful winger Leonardo Spinazzola marauding the left flank at every opportunity, Austria coach Franco Foda’s pre-match claim that his side had a 10% chance of stopping the Azzurri machine seemed about correct.
Spinazzola unleashed a wide shot before cutting a dangerous ball for Nicolo Barella whose soft strike was saved by Bachmann’s outstretched foot.
Ciro Immobile, back after resting with the rest of Mancini’s first-choice attack for the final group game against Wales, then sent a diving right-footed effort against the post from 25 yards.
But it wasn’t all one-way traffic as Austria exploited the space behind the Italian defense and on one such occasion Marko Arnautovic fired a shot over the crossbar.
Foda would have been the happiest manager at half-time and his side gained confidence after the break as Italy oozed oddly.
Austrian skipper David Alaba curled a free kick just over the bar and it all started to get a bit tricky for Italy when Xaver Schlager and Arnautovic both got close.
Arnautovic then thought he broke the deadlock with a close-range header from a tight angle in the 65th minute, but a VAR check concluded he had been slightly offside.
Mancini looked unmoved in the technical area and acted immediately, knocking out Marco Verratti and Barella, replacing them with Manuel Locatelli and Matteo Pessina. He then threw Chiesa and Andrea Belotti as overtime loomed.
The changes finally paid off, as the depth of the Italian squad proved to be enough to get the job done, but just barely.