Italy beats Wales to finish Euro 2020 group stag
Italy’s reserves really do play as well as its starters. Or just about.
Roberto Mancini has been saying for weeks that all 26 members of his squad are starters. And after beating Wales 1-0 on Sunday despite making eight changes to his starting lineup at the European Championship, it’s hard to argue with him.
“It’s important that the identity of the team remains the same, as changing three or four players shouldn’t make any difference. They all know what to do and the end product doesn’t change,” Mancini said.
“They all proved today that everyone here is a first-choice player,” the coach added. “Winning wasn’t even necessary, which made it difficult in terms of mentality, but we fought for the win anyway and that shows so much.”
The victory extended Italy’s unbeaten streak to 30 matches _ matching a team record.
Matteo Pessina gave Italy the lead late in the first half by redirecting a free kick from Marco Verratti on a textbook play.
Wales defender Ethan Ampadu was sent off with a questionable straight red card for stepping on Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes into the second half.
Italy, which won its opening two matches 3-0, finished Group A with a perfect nine points. Wales came second with four points and qualified for the last 16 at only its second European Championship. The Welsh reached the semifinals at Euro 2016.
By the final whistle, Italy had no starters from its opening two matches left on the field, with even goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma replaced by Salvatore Sirigu in the closing minutes.