Italy cruised to a 3-0 victory over Turkey in the inaugural match of Euro 2020 at the Stadio Olimpico.
Turkey reduced the space for Italy to operate with a compact defensive unit until the floodgates opened once Mehdi Demiral inadvertently diverted into his own net after the interval.
Ciro Immobile doubled Italy’s advantage just past the hour mark before a classy finish from Lorenzo Insigne capped a phenomenal performance from Gli Azzuri.
The eye-catching opening ceremony evoked nostalgia of Italia 90′ when Andrea Bocelli sung the iconic ‘Nessun dorna’ in front of 16,000 inside the Stadio Olimpico. Fireworks may have crackled around the stadium before kick-off but Italy would have to be patient before the fireworks started on the pitch.Embed from Getty Images
Turkey were compact, deep and very awkward to breach and Italy often found themselves trying to thread the ball through the eye of a needle. Insigne squandered a golden chance in the opening 25 minutes, although the best chance of the first half fell to Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini.
An out-swinging corner from Insigne perfectly located the head of Chiellini but Ugurcan Cakir masterfully tipped his effort over the woodwork. Immobile failed to hit the target with the two chances he was presented with, while Gianluigi Donnarumma tamed a dangerous Turkish attack before the break.
Burak Yilmaz, who posed the biggest attacking threat for Turkey, made a surging run down the left, but Donnarumma scooped his cross to safety with Ozan Tufan lurking with intent at the back post.
Turkey tired quickly in the second half although the introduction of Cengiz Under nearly immediately paid dividends. The Leicester City loanee pickpocketed Jorginho after Insigne sold him an undercooked pass and charged forward with Leonardo Spinazzola chasing him relentlessly. Spinazzola smartly ushered him wide and Under was only able to draw a comfortable save from Donnarumma at his near post.Embed from Getty Images
Italy found their long-awaited breakthrough shortly after when Demiral’s own goal unravelled Turkey’s hard work. Manuel Locatelli unlocked the Turkish midfield with an incisive diagonal pass into the feet of Nicolo Barella. The Internazionale midfielder floated into a pocket of space and discovered the evasive run of Domenico Berardi on the right. He tricked his way past Umut Meras before his cross was guided past Cakir by the chest of Demiral.
Gli Azzuri smelt blood and tested Cakir with two strikes in quick succession from Spinazzola and Locatelli. Turkey looked defeated and Italy capitalised on their superiority when Immobile added a second on 66 minutes. It was a sweeping attack which started with Barella’s beautiful toe-poked pass to Locatelli. Insigne switched the ball from left to right and Berardi’s cross found Spinazzola at the back post. His strike was only parried by Cakir and Immobile ruthlessly slotted the ball into the far corner with a predatory finish.
Tired legs in the Turkish camp led to costly errors in the latter stages and Italy ruthlessly punished Cakir when he cheaply conceded possession to Berardi. Insigne caressed his strike into the far corner, opening up his body elegantly, to crown a sublime attack involving Barella and Immobile.
Chiellini prevented Yilmaz from scoring a consolation in stoppage time to preserve Italy’s ninth consecutive clean sheet. Yilmaz was baring down on a goal, after an inventive pass from Hakan Çalhanoğlu, until a heroic challenge from Chiellini diverted the ball behind.
Italy have been overlooked during the pre-tournament build-up, despite extending their unbeaten run to 28 games, but their breath-taking performance in the Euro 2020 opener has made a clear statement.
Turkey: U Cakir; Z Celik, M Demiral, C Soyuncu, U Meras; O Yokoslu (I Kahveci 65); K Karaman (H Dervisoglu 77), O Tufan (K Ayhan 65), Y Yazici (C Under 46), H Çalhanoğlu; B Yilmaz.
Subs not used: M Gunok, D Tokoz, A Bayindir, T Antalyali, O Kabak, E Unal, O Kokcu, M Muldur.
Italy: G Donnarumma; A Florenzi (G Di Lorenzo 46), L Bonucci, G Chiellini, L Spinazzola; N Barella, Jorginho, M Locatelli (B Cristante 74); D Berardi (F Bernardeschi 85), C Immobile (A Belotti 81), L Insigne (F Chiesa 80).
Subs not used: S Sirigu, M Pessina, Emerson, F Acerbi, G Raspadori, A Bastoni, A Meret.