Saturday. 20.04.2024

There were no opening night nerves for Italy on Friday when they opened Euro 2020 with a commanding 3-0 victory over Turkey in Rome.

The Azzurri made a deserved breakthrough eight minutes into the second half when Domenico Berardi hit the byline and Merih Demiral turned into his own net.

Defensive Turkey's unlikely chances of snatching an equalizer were ended by Ciro Immobile in the 66th minute and Lorenzo Insigne added a late third.

The tournament started a year later than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic but the Italian fans in the Olympic Stadium, open to 25 per cent of capacity, were given something to cheer.

11 June 2021, Italy, Rome: Italy's Lorenzo Inisgne and Turkey's Hakan Calhanoglu battle for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A soccer match between Italy and Turkey at the Olympic Stadium. Photo: Matthias Balk/dpaItaly's Lorenzo Inisgne (R) and Turkey's Hakan Calhanoglu battle for the ball. Photo: Matthias Balk/dpa

Roberto Mancini's side are now unbeaten in 28 games going into their second Group A match with Switzerland on Wednesday when Turkey must improve hugely against Wales. The Swiss meet Wales to conclude matchday 1 in Baku on Saturday.

Defensive wall

Italy have not lost a competitive game at home since 1999 and Turkey showed no interest in altering that record, instead leaving a defensive wall behind isolated forward Burak Yilmaz of French champions Lille.

But it was their own defender Demiral who opened the door for Italy when he could not avoid Berardi's powerful cross in his own six-yard box in the 53rd minute.

Immobile made the tie safe by converting after keeper Ugurcan Cakir saved Leonardo Spinazzola's shot, from another Berardi cross, without controlling the rebound.

Cakir had made several earlier saves, most notably on a first half header from veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in contrast will scarcely have an easier clean sheet though he did have Chiellini to thank for a late block on Yilmaz.

And Cakir was beaten again in the 79th minute when Insigne curled in from the left of the box having sent an identical chance just wide in the first half.

Italy pierces the Turkish defensive wall