Italy coach Roberto Mancini said his team’s patience against an ultra-defensive Turkey side was the key to the 3-0 win in its Euro 2020 Group A opener on Friday but he laughed off talk of the side being among the tournament favourites.
The match was goalless at the break after Turkey’s deep defence frustrated the Azzurri who dominated possession, but Italy ran away with the match after scoring in the 53rd minute.
“We have played many teams that have done what Turkey did this evening. They put everyone (back) there, give you little space and make it hard for you to score,” said Mancini.
“But the lads had patience. We waited, kept playing, tried to get that goal, then we got it. The lads did really well.
“The first half wasn’t straightforward and in a game like that, even if they (Turkey) put everyone back, if you give one (goal) away on the break, the game changes,” he added.
“It was important to start well in Rome and I think it’s a satisfaction for the public and for Italians,” said Mancini of the match played at a Stadio Olimpico that was filled to a one fourth of its capacity.
“It was a beautiful evening, I hope there are many others, but there are still six more for Wembley.”
Italy striker Ciro Immobile, who grabbed the second goal after Merih Demiral’s own goal had broken the deadlock, agreed that the team had shown the right approach.
“We showed patience in the first half. Turkey are a strong side and caused problems for many top teams. We tried to tire them out, moving the ball left and right and trying to spread them. Unfortunately, we regularly struggled to break their wall.
“Turkey were more tired after the break. After the (first) goal they had to open up some space, so that’s when our quality emerged,” he added.
The win puts Italy in a strong position in the group, which also features Wales and Switzerland, but Mancini laughed when asked if his side were now among the favourites to win the tournament.
“We produced a good performance. It was important to start well here in Rome and I think we satisfied everyone, for the fans and all the Italians watching. (But) there are six games to go and there are a lot of good teams,” he said.
Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but is now on a 28-match unbeaten run under Mancini.
“We played a good match, even in the first half without being able to score. A great team. There was a lot of help from the crowd.”
With inputs from AFP