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Mancini’s surprising Austria claim
Italy had to fight through a period of extra time to eventually overcome a stubborn Austrian side which held them to a 0-0 scoreline after 90 minutes.
Goals from Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina were enough to give them the win despite a late header from Sasa Kalajdzic.
After the match, Roberto Mancini praised Austria for their fight and said that it would arguably be a tougher match than their quarter-final game.
“I knew this was going to be tough, probably tougher than the quarter-final,” he said.
“But we played well and deserved it. This test can do us good, we had to show a strong mentality.”
When asked who he would prefer out of Belgium and Portugal though he refused to choose.
“They are two extraordinary teams, so it’s difficult to choose.”
To say either Portugal or Belgium will offer less of a tough test is some statement, and will pile expectation on his Italian side who have now conceded for the first time at the tournament.
Mancini hints at Chiesa starting role
Despite Mancini making a number of changes for the third group stage match against Wales, in which Italy were 1-0 victors, he reverted back to the majority of players who started the tournament.
Only Marco Verratti & Francesco Acerbi, who were not part of the first couple of matches due to injury and Giorgio Chiellini’s presence, came in.
However, Chiesa’s goal may have given Mancini some food for thought and a swap with Domenico Berardi could be on the cards.
“The players who came off the bench had the right mentality and stepped straight into the match to change the game. Those who came on were extraordinary after those who came off had already given everything they had,” said Mancini.
The final line though does reveal the appreciation he had for his starters.
There is also hope Chiellini could return soon after the Juventus man returned to training prior to the Austria match.
Giorgio Chiellini has returned to Italy training, taking part in a defensive training exercise, but warmed up separately – the starting pair v Austria should be Bonucci and Acerbi. (Sky Sport)
— Get Italian Football News (@_GIFN) June 24, 2021
Federico Chiesa follows in father’s footsteps as Italy break triple record to send stout Austria packing
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