Italy has escaped unscathed in the 8th final against Austria. After 90 minutes, the European Championship tastemaker was still 0-0 against the stiff Austrians. Supersubs Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina shot the Italians into the quarterfinals in extra time: 2-1.
A wave of relief went through Wembley, but also in many living rooms. Italy has shown in the group matches how wonderful they can play football and it would have been a shame if we had to say goodbye early. In any case, the quarterfinals will be to drool over. Belgium or Portugal will be the opponent.
Remarkably enough, Manuel Locatelli, the hero of the match against Switzerland, had passed by. His replacement Marco Verratti is a different type of player and you saw that in Italy’s game. Defensively, it was solid in midfield. It was less offensive. Austria also proved to be a tougher opponent than expected.
Austrians with the knife between their teeth
Physically, the Austrians threw everything into battle. That resulted in a yellow card for Marco Arnautovic within 70 seconds. The Austrians were even better at the beginning, until Verratti stepped up and was in between. Offensively, Italy created opportunities, but in the last pass it was very sloppy.
The best moment of the 1st half was a shot out of nowhere by Ciro Immobile. The blond striker of Lazio, 2 goals in this European Championship, thought to score from a great distance. His falling shot exploded at the intersection between the post and the crossbar.
Austria came out of the locker room well and was dangerous with Arnautovic again. The erratic attacker did everything right in a slalom around some Italians but the finish was hopeless. Not much later, the Austrians even got a free kick on the edge of the 16-meter. David Alaba fired just over.
Italy was getting more and more nervous. It didn’t swing like a beautiful Italian this time. It all went a bit more difficult, especially because the liberating goal was not forthcoming. In fact, Austria had the best chances. Marcel Sabitzer shot just wide and Arnautovic was unable to surprise Gianluigi Donnarumma in the short corner.
The former FC Twente player did that a little later. Alaba headed the ball into the 16, where Arnautovic headed in through the bottom of the bar. To the relief of all Italians, Arnautovic was offside and the VAR saw that well.
Finally Locatelli and Pessina came on the field and that changed Italy’s game. Locatelli moved closer to Immobile and that resulted in a revival for a while, but not a goal. On the other hand, there was another perilous moment for Italy when Austria claimed a penalty. However, the VAR found offside.
The moment of Chiesa
There was nothing for it but to extend and substitute Chiesa was the first to be dangerous. He shot the ball into the short corner against the keeper. A minute later, he got the ball again in the same spot. This time he fired flawlessly.
It seemed that all the weight had been lifted off the Italian shoulders. Suddenly Italy showed why they have won the hearts of so many football fans. They put up an undulating attacking game against the exhausted Austrians. Insigne first curled a free kick in the corner, but was unlucky that Austrian goalie Daniel Bachmann had a brilliant save. Moments later it was still 2-0. Pessina reacted with lightning speed when he received the ball in the box and Italy sighed with relief.
That sigh was replaced by fear when Sasa Kalajdzic suddenly tapped in from a corner. Six nerve-racking minutes followed, but Italy won and that is a good thing for the European Championship.
What a goal from Chiesa🇮🇹pic.twitter.com/cuhVeOrUMe
— Football Transfers (@Transferzone00) June 26, 2021
– FUT Levi (@FutVI) June 26, 2021