Few had Roberto Mancini’s side among the favorites to win the Henri Delaunay trophy, but bookmakers may be adjusting their odds as the Italians saw several leagues above their opponents on a damp night in Rome.
An own goal from Merih Demiral and goals from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne gave Italy a deserved victory, although Turkey was certainly disappointing given the talent, albeit inexperienced, that coach Senol Gunes had at their disposal.
Sterner tests are certainly ahead for Italy, but the opening match of this postponed tournament was worth the wait for the Azzurri.
For most of the game, it looked like Andrea Bocelli’s rousing performance by Nessun Dorma at the opening ceremony would be the only highlight of the evening as both teams struggled to find rhythm in the early exchanges.
The first chance of importance in a drab opening half of football came when Insigne played a neat one-two with his Italian team-mate Domenico Berardi, but the Napoli attacker misaligned his shot when he was well positioned in the penalty area.
Italy dominated for sure, but it was difficult to get clear chances.
A header from veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini from a corner forced Turkish goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir to make an acrobatic save, although his attempt seemed to go over the bar.
Despite a lack of experience, Turkey’s young and talented team came to Euro 2020 with high expectations. At 35, captain Burak Yilmaz – fresh from helping Lille win Ligue 1 – is eight years older than any other player. in the squad.
The striker struggled to get into the game early on and was regularly isolated as Turkey only had 37% possession in the first half. In fact, Yilmaz was forced to spend as much time in his own penalty area helping to defend wave after wave of Italian attacks than in the opposing team’s penalty area.
Fortunately, the game came alive in the early stages of the second half as Italy emerged from the dressing room with much greater intensity.
It was only eight minutes before the deadlock was broken and it was Turkish defender Demiral who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, bouncing the ball into his own net from a low cross by Domenico Berardi.
Stadio Olimpico in Rome, although filled to only a quarter of its 70,000 capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions, erupted and it wasn’t long before Italian fans were celebrating number two.
Berardi took center stage again, firing the ball to the far post for Leonardo Spinazzola, whose blocked shot fell perfectly at Immobile’s feet and fired the ball into the far corner.
Italy was in cruise control, as it had been for most of the match, and Insignia put the icing on the cake with just 10 minutes to go.
Cakir’s wayward pass allowed Immobile to eventually feed Insigne into the penalty area and the little winger made no mistake with an emphatic first finish.
Italy will certainly have surprised many with such an impressive performance – including tonight’s unsuspecting opponents – and no doubt informed the other 23 countries.
On Saturday, Switzerland will face Wales — the other two teams in Group A — while Denmark will face Finland and Russia will face Belgium in Group B.
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