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Roberto Mancini: ‘We must rest ahead of Euro 2020 final’

Roberto Mancini was delighted by Italy‘s fight and spirit after sealing a shot at European Championship glory by beating Spain on penalties following a scintillating semi-final.

England or Denmark lie in wait for the Azzurri back at Wembley on Sunday after edging past La Roja in a pulsating clash under the arch on Tuesday evening.

Italy struck first as Federico Chiesa curled home a sublime effort, but Spain substitute Alvaro Morata finished a fine team move to send the match into extra time.

The match would end 1-1 after 120 minutes and had to be settled by spot-kicks, with Morata denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma before Jorginho coolly swept home to seal 4-2 shootout triumph for Mancini’s men.

“First and foremost, we’re delighted to have been able to provide this wonderful evening’s entertainment to the Italian people,” the former Manchester City boss said.

“Now we still have one more game to go and we wanted to do exactly that if possible.

“We knew it was going to be a very tough match because in terms of ball possession Spain are the best around.

“They caused us problems. We had to dig in when we needed to. We tried to score or create opportunities when we could.

“It was a very open match and of course there were some issues because we did not have too much possession.

“However, we wanted to make it into the final and we kept trying right until the end.

“As ever, penalties are a lottery but I really want to take my hat off to Spain. They’re a wonderful team.”

Italy have impressed throughout the Euros and stretched their unbeaten run to a jaw-dropping 33 matches, but Mancini knows they have not achieved anything yet.

“I thank the players because they believed right from day one that we could create something incredible,” he said.

“We haven’t done everything we need to. There’s still one step to go. Now we have to rest up because this really was very challenging.

“I did say to them before the match this would be our hardest game of the competition because when you go into your sixth match in such quick succession with all the travelling that we’ve had to do it does become very tiring.

“We certainly struggled with Spain’s ball possession, had some issues, but we wanted to make the final.”

Spain shone for large spells against Italy but a lack of cutting edge proved costly for Enrique’s men.

“It’s not a sad night for me,” the Spanish manager said. “Not at all.

“Of course there’s disappointment but that’s elite football. You have to be able to win and lose.

“We were very pleased to win the penalty shootout in the quarter-finals but we can’t get desperate now. We have to just congratulate our opponents.

“You’re always thinking about the present, thinking about being competitive.

“I said at the start we were one of the eight teams that could have won it. I don’t think I was wrong about that.

“I think we now go home knowing we competed and were one of the best teams at the competition.”

Enrique said he gave his players an A- grade for their tournament and threw his support behind Morata after the striker’s crucial spot-kick was saved.

“Well, he has an adductor issue and it really says a lot about his personality that even despite that he wanted to take a penalty,” the Spain boss said in the post-match press conference.

“He has gone through some tough times during this competition but he was brilliant.

“He really created some uncertainty within the Italy ranks so he was excellent.

“I haven’t been able to see him because he’s had to go to doping control, but I will go and see him now.”

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Italy became the first team to qualify for the knockout stages of Euro 2020.

Roberto Mancini’s side showcased themselves as possible contenders for the title after a dominant 3-0 win over Switzerland in Group A.

Manuel Locatelli’s brace either side of half-time and Ciro Immobile’s late third gave Italy the points in Rome and sent them through to the last 16.

Wales put themselves on the brink of qualification after an impressive 2-0 win over Turkey in the same group.

Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts scored at the end of each half to secure the points, while Gareth Bale missed a penalty.

Russia, who lost their opening game to Belgium, got their Group B campaign up and running with a 1-0 win over Finland.



Roberto Mancini has warned his buoyant Italy side to be on their guard as they prepare to kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Mancini’s men go into the tournament as one of the favourites for the title after launching themselves on a 27-match unbeaten run, including winning all 10 of their qualifying games.

But Mancini, who spent a year coaching Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Lig, is all too aware of the threat posed by his opponents, and the possibility of freezing on the big occasion.

Mancini told a press conference: “The first match is always the most difficult. We must shake off the tension and not think about other things, just focus on what needs to get done.

“There will be a little more pressure with it being the opening match of the tournament, and Turkey are packed with talent, but it remains just another match and we have to focus on that.”

Mancini, who is already missing Marco Verratti, suffered another blow in the build-up to the game when Lorenzo Pellegrini was forced out with a muscle injury, and will be replaced by Gaetano Castrovilli.

Mancini, who took over in 2018 when the Italian team was still reeling from failing to qualify for the World Cup, added: “I was positive three years ago and I am even more so now.

“We have excellent players and have forged an excellent team spirit. We’ve had fun and we want to carry on having fun, and I am very confident that we will make it to London.”

Turkey also cruised through Euro 2020 qualification and coach Senol Gunes believes his squad, which features a number of Serie A-based players including Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Merih Demiral of Juventus, are capable of an upset.

Gunes said: “It is good having players who are in Serie A clubs, as they know how things work in Italy and the approach these teams take.

“We must not lose concentration, otherwise there could be real problems. The first and last games of the group are fundamental and they can change the balance of the whole situation.

“It will be hard-fought in technical, tactical and physical terms. I want to see the quality of my players on show. This is a game between two strong teams and I believe Turkey can win.”