Italy opened their Euro 2020 campaign with a relentless display as they romped to a 3-0 victory over Turkey at Stadio Olimpico.
Roberto Mancini’s side extended their unbeaten run to 28 games with an emphatic victory over a Turkey side, who went into the break exhausted after a period of dominance from the Azzurri.
The second half saw a flurry of goals, as Merih Demiral converted into his own net before Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne confirmed a fantastic opening day win.
Story of the match
Turkey found the opening exchanges quite difficult, as Italy set out a tempo that they would maintain throughout the game.
Zeki Çelik managed to ease some of that pressure as he stepped out of the defence with the ball in the 10th minute of the game. The Lille right-back lifted a cross over the Italian backline to fellow club counterpart Burak Yilmaz, whose cross was headed away from danger on the edge.
Insigne created Italy’s first major opportunity, as the tricky forward came in off the left-hand side to play a ‘one-two’ with Immobile before bending his shot wide of the far post.
In the 22nd minute, Uğurcan Çakir produced a remarkable save to keep the scores level, managing to get a fingertip on Giorgio Chiellini’s guided header. Defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci then glanced wide from the following corner.
On the half-hour mark, Immobile went close to breaking the stalemate when he headed wide from Domenico Berardi’s chipped cross after pulling away from Çağlar Söyüncü.
Turkey then responded from that Italian opportunity with Yusuf Yazici, who delivered a teasing cross in the direction of Ozan Tufan’s late run towards the back stick. But Gianluigi Donnarumma broke a sweat for the first time on the evening to punch the chance away from his area.
The Azzurri finished the half strong, and their tight, neat passes around the 18-yard box caused Turkey’s defensive structure to begin to crumble. Their slow burn soon ended with a powerful strike from Immobile, but he could only shoot low at Çakır who held.
Cengiz Ünder was introduced for Turkey at the break; he made an instant impact by having his side's only shot of the game. Ünder sprinted forward after dispossessing Jorginho on halfway, but he was ushered wide by Leonardo Spinazzola before the winger shot into the side-netting.
However, Turkey looked leggy after being run ragged in the first half. Ultimately, this saw Italy grab full control of the contest by taking the lead eight minutes after the restart.
Berardi drove into the area from the right and benefitted from Umat Meraş’ slip to get into a deep position. The winger drilled the ball across the area, forcing Demiral into a predicament, from which he directed the ball into his own goal.
On the hour, Manuel Locatelli forced Çakir into action once again, firing low and hard towards goal from a deep pocket of space, which was pushed wide by the ‘keeper.
Italy doubled their lead in the 66th minute, as Lazio’s Immobile pounced on Çakir’s great save from Spinazzola to place home his 28th competitive goal of the season.
The Azzurri continued to dance around their opponents, adding a third through Insigne’s tidy finish after taking advantage of Çakir’s poor goal-kick.
Italy never let their levels drop, even in stoppage time when Yilmaz thought he had found a yard of space, Chiellini stepped in and blocked the shot behind.
This was met with a tremendous celebration from the captain, which portrayed Italy’s fight and persistence on the night as they cruised to victory.
Takeaways from the game
Italy never stopped
Mancini has transformed this Italian side into a possession-heavy monster, which helped drain Turkey’s energy by half time.
Italy’s backline suffered little danger as the Azzurri’s neat, intricate passes around the Crescent-Star’s area slowly broke down Turkey like a snake suffocating its prey.
The Azzurri were relentless from the beginning and the intensity remained high. It is going to take a very good side to stop Italy’s dominant approach.
Even with their three-goal lead, they were quick to press and make sure the ball was under their control – this was the attitude that they displayed throughout the night.
If they can keep to this level of press and progression on the ball, then expect to see Italy proceed deep into the tournament.
Man of the match
Most of the plaudits will be handed to the Azzurri frontline, whose quick, clever movement dismantled Turkey’s defence, however, the left-back was superb on the evening.
Spinazzola got forward at every opportunity, providing an overload on the left and width to the Italian structure as Insigne drifted inside.
He was also important on the defensive side, thwarting potential attacks in Turkey’s half, which stopped them from counterattacking.
Turkey (4-1-4-1): Çakir; Çelik, Demiral, Söyüncü, Meraş; Yokuşlu (Can Kahveci, 65’); Karaman (Dervişoğlu, 77’), Tufan (Ayhan, 65’), Yazici (Ünder, 46’), Çalhanoğlu; B Yilmaz
Unused Subs: Antalyali, Bayindir, Dervisoglu, Gunok, Kabak, Kokcu, Muldur, Tokoz, Unal
Italy (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Florenzi (Di Lorenzo, 46’), Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Locatelli (Cristante, 75'); Berardi, Immobile (Belotti, 81’), Insigne (Chiesa, 81’)
Unused Subs: Acerbi, Bastoni, Bernardeschi, Emerson, Meret, Pessina, Raspadori, Sirigu