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Italy v Wales Live Commentary, 20/06/2021

1 - 0
M. Pessina (39)
Stadio Olimpico


That is all from this Euro 2020 fixture, until next time!
Italy coast through to the last-16 stages, topping Group A with a perfect three wins in three games – and they are now unbeaten in 30 internationals, matching an Azzurri record. Their next opponents will be the team who finish second in Group C, so it will be either Ukraine or Austria. Wales, who finish second courtesy of a better goal difference than third-placed Switzerland, will face second from Group B, meaning it will likely be Russia or Finland for Page’s side in the last-16.
Italy complete their Group A fixtures with a 1-0 win over Wales at the Stadio Olimpico. Pessina gave his team the lead with a smart first-half finish before Ampadu's second-half sending-off placed pressure on Page's men. Bale then spurned a glorious chance to level for the away side, who defended remarkably well for the closing stages of this game to earn a well-deserved second-place finish in Group A.
90' + 2' CLOSE! Cristante drifts forward before unleashing a low right-footed strike through a crowd of bodies inside the Wales area. Ward somehow manages to parry away a save as he dives to his right and Belotti can't follow up on the rebound.
90' + 1' There will be three minutes of added time in this game as Wales persist in defending deep and limiting their opponent's chances.
90' Italy had won each of their last 10 games in all competitions heading into this fixture, keeping a clean sheet in every match. Their remarkable defensive record looks set to continue here.
S. Sirigu
G. Donnarumma
89' A rather unusual change comes as Mancini senses the opportunity to offer Sirigu the chance to get on the pitch at Euro 2020. He replaces Donnarumma, unsurprisingly.
88' SAVE! Raspadori gets crowded out by numerous Welsh defenders but the ball finds Belotti. The Italian forward spins inside the D, working it onto his right foot before powering towards the bottom right corner. Ward beats away a save before diving onto the rebound inside the six-yard area.
G. Castrovilli
M. Pessina
87' Scorer of the first goal, Pessina, comes off as Mancini brings on Castrovilli for the closing stages.
D. Levitt
J. Allen
86' In the middle of the park, Page sends on the fresh legs of Levitt for Allen.
D. Brooks
G. Bale
86' Bale, who squandered a glorious opportunity earlier in this half, makes way for Brooks.
B. Davies
N. Williams
86' Page makes a triple substitution, the first of which sees Davies replace Williams at left-back.
85' Verratti lifts an inviting delivery towards the head of Acerbi at the far post, but Rodon is there to head away the danger in front of his opposite man. Wales are defending with their lives at the moment as they look to protect their second-place position in Group A.
84' Chiesa fakes to shoot as the clearance from the corner finds him to the left of goal. The Italian forward then pulls the trigger but his strike gets deflected behind for another corner.
83' A loose ball cannons around the Welsh area before Chiesa wins a corner for his side, courtesy of Williams' block. The Italians are in no rush to take the set-piece as Page prepares some more changes on the touchline.
81' Wales have just over 10 minutes to hold out as they cling onto their second-place Group A spot. In Baku, Switzerland are still leading 3-1 against Turkey.
M. Pessina
Yellow Card
79' Pessina, for his reaction to Gunter's foul on Belotti, also goes into the book for dissent.
C. Gunter
Yellow Card
79' Gunter smashes through the back of Belotti to cynically stop a counter-attack and the referee has no option but to caution the centre-back.
78' Italy have scored seven goals at EURO 2020 so far; their most after three games of a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup (7). Another goal for them would seriously put Wales' second-place finish in danger.
76' OVER! Bale wastes a golden chance for Wales as he is unmarked at the back post but can only smash a left-footed volley over the crossbar of Donnarumma's goal. Initially, a long free-kick found Rodon at the back post before the centre-back redirected a header back across goal to find the Welsh captain.
G. Raspadori
F. Bernardeschi
75' At the same time as Jorginho's removal, Raspadori also comes on for Bernardeschi.
B. Cristante
75' Mancini makes his second alteration as he brings on Cristante for Jorginho.
H. Wilson
D. James
74' Page makes another change as he sends on Wilson for James.
74' Verratti angles another corner from the left-hand side towards the six-yard box. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder's delivery is inviting but Acerbi fails to get on the end of it.
73' There are five red shirts inside the area but Roberts' long throw-in from the right-hand side gets headed clear. With around 20 minutes left to play, can Page look to his bench for some more inspiration at the Stadio Olimpico?
72' Roberts takes an age to go over to the right-hand touchline and launch a long throw-in into the Italian area. Moore challlenges but Bastoni heads clear before Roberts wins another throw-in in the right-hand corner.
70' Wales are camped on the edge of their own area now but they are keeping their opponents at bay for the moment. In Baku, Switzerland still hold a two-goal advantage, meaning Page's men are still heading through in second place as it stands.
69' Ward comes to claim Verratti's corner but drops the cross and Bastoni nearly capitalises. Fortunately for Page's men, Ramsey is on hand to hook away a clearance towards the right-hand channel.
68' Jorginho goes on a rare foray forward and plays back to Emerson, who spins and unleashes a left-footed strike. Rodon is there, however, to block behind for another corner to Italy.
66' Bernardeschi whips an inswinging corner towards the near post, where Toloi can only head well wide of the target. The right-back never stood a chance of testing Ward from that sort of angle.
65' SAVE! Williams can't keep up with Chiesa as the forward travels down the right-hand side to latch onto Pessina's throughball. Chiesa makes it to the byline, cutting back for Belotti, who sees his low right-footed strike smartly saved by the feet of Ward at the near post.
64' If Wales can hold out here, Page may point to a similar scenario against France, where Williams was sent off and the visitors had to defend with 10 men. For now, however, the full-time whistle remains a long way away and Italy are showing no signs of slowing down at the Stadio Olimpico.
63' Toloi finds the overlapping run of Chiesa, who powers forward before crossing low towards the near post. Belotti lurks but Rodon does well to intervene and clear into the left-hand channel.
62' James wins a free-kick in the right-hand channel, which allows Wales to send up their big men. The Manchester United forward delivers the wide set-piece but Pessina comfortably heads away near the penalty spot.
K. Moore
J. Morrell
60' Page throws caution to the wind as he sends on forward Moore for midfielder Morrell. The visitors need a goal to secure a second-place finish, so could Moore be the man to find that for them?
59' Italy are unbeaten in their last 29 matches in all competitions (W24 D5) since a 1-0 loss to Portugal in September 2018. If they avoid defeat against Wales, they will equal their all-time longest unbeaten run of 30 games between November 1935 and July 1939.
58' Chiesa nips through the legs of Williams before ghosting inside and sending a tame left-footed strike into the hands of Ward. The 10-man Welsh are up against it now.
57' Bernardeschi remains down receiving treatment after Ampadu's red card but he is quickly back to his feet and fit to carry on. Wales' thankless task of maintaining their two-goal advantage over Switzerland has just got even harder.
56' Ampadu has become the youngest player in European Championship history to be shown a straight red card, aged 20 years and 279 days.
E. Ampadu
Red Card
55' RED CARD! Ampadu is left speechless as referee Hategan doesn’t hesitate and brandishes a red card. The centre-back smashed into a late tackle on Bernardeschi, perhaps catching him slightly high and standing on his ankle. Nevertheless, it looks a harsh decision but, despite this, VAR checks and sticks with the referee’s original decision.
55' Belotti is far too ambitious as he drifts towards the right of goal before wildly volleying over the crossbar from a tight angle with his right foot.
54' Ramsey sneaks in behind the Italian defence but he can't test Donnarumma from an acute angle. The midfielder looks to pull back towards the penalty spot; however, none of his team-mates are there and Verratti is on hand to clear.
53' POST! After Allen fouled Belotti, it's between Bernardeschi and Verratti for the free-kick. The Juventus man takes it, powering.a low left-footed strike towards the bottom left corner. Ward dives across but he can't reach it. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, the post saves him before the loose ball cannons away from danger.
J. Allen
Yellow Card
51' Allen bundles through the back of Belotti and becomes the first name in referee Hategan’s book. More importantly, Italy get a free-kick in a central position 25 yards from goal.
50' James dances around three tackles to the left of goal but his attempted throughball gets cut out by substitute Acerbi. The centre-back may have felt hard done by to miss out on the starting line-up, so now is his time to prove his worth to Mancini.
49' For the third or fourth time in this game, Bastoni clatters into Bale. Referee Hategan has a quick word with the young centre-back before allowing play to go on. It appears he is on his last warning now.
48' Before a ball was kicked today, Wales held a five-goal advantage over Switzerland in third place. Given the Swiss' two-goal lead over Turkey now and the current scoreline here, Page's men are in danger of finishing third, if there is a two-goal swing in this second half.
46' Referee Hategan gets the second half underway!
F. Acerbi
L. Bonucci
46' At half-time, Acerbi replaces Bonucci as Mancini rests his stand-in captain for the last-16 stages.
Page won't want to change too much at half-time, given the players he rested and would likely bring on are just the one booking away from suspension. As it stands, the visitors will still go through in second place due to goal difference if the scores remain the same here and in the Switzerland game. Mancini may look to make some alterations in the second half to rest some of his key players ahead of the last-16 stage.
Italy, as they have done all tournament, started off in commanding fashion, with Belotti, Chiesa and Emerson all going close. Pessina finally opened the scoring for Mancini's men, flicking a smart finish past Ward after Verratti's inviting set-piece delivery. In truth, Wales have barely ventured forward and Donnarumma has rarely been troubled, barring Gunter's headed effort that went just over the crossbar. At half-time at the Stadio Olimpico, the hosts lead 1-0.
44' Bale, who has barely seen the ball in this first half, looks frustrated with himself as his touch goes out for a goal-kick. Initially, it was Roberts who chipped into the right-hand channel for the Welsh captain before his touch let him down.
43' Ramsey smartly drags down Pessina to stop the counter-attack near the centre circle. The Juventus midfielder knew exactly what he was doing there and is a tad fortunate to escape a booking.
42' Bastoni roams forward again and whips a cross towards the penalty spot. Chiesa flies in, getting the slightest of touches to turn the ball towards goal. Fortunately for Page's men, Chiesa's effort goes wide of the target, courtesy of a deflection at the far post.
41' It's hard to argue that Pessina's opener wasn't coming. The hosts have been relentless in their pressing, while testing Ward on numerous occasions from different angles. If the score remains the same, Italy are marching through top of Group A to the last-16 stages.
M. Verratti
39' Verratti takes the free-kick that he won himself on the right-hand side as he crosses towards the front post. The low delivery has enough speed on it that Pessina just has to make slight contact to flick towards the bottom left corner. Ward stretches but he can't stop Pessina's strike from finding the net as the midfielder opens the scoring!
M. Pessina
39' GOOOOALLL! 1-0 ITALY! After Verratti wins the wide set-piece, he takes charge over Bernardeschi to whip a low, inviting delivery towards the near post. Pessina nips in front of his marker to flick a right-footed volley towards the bottom left corner. Perhaps due to the speed of the cross or the bodies in front of Ward’s goal, the goalkeeper can’t reach the effort and Pessina opens the scoring for Mancini’s side!
38' Allen carelessly barges through the back of Verratti, which offers Mancini's team a free-kick in a good position wide on the right-hand side.
37' Verratti tries a long-range pass in search of Belotti inside of Ampadu and Williams to the right of the Welsh goal. The forward escapes the attentions of the pair but the pass races through to the hands of Ward, who is quick off his line to intercept.
35' James goes over the top in a crunching tackle on Verratti and the Italians are quick to surround the referee. Hategan opts against showing a yellow card and the Manchester United forward perhaps gets away with one there.
34' If he keeps a clean sheet, Donnarumma would be the youngest keeper to keep a clean sheet in three consecutive games at the European Championship (22y 115d on the day of the game). He would also be just the second keeper to record a shutout in each of their first three starts in the competition, after Germany’s Andreas Kopke.
32' After this game passes the half-hour mark, Page will be satisfied with his team's performance so far. While not posing too many problems for Donnarumma, they have defended in a compact shape and Ward is yet to make a challenging save, with all the Italian efforts being limited to acute angles or longer ranges.
31' Emerson powers down the left-hand channel past Rodon before going down inside the box. Referee Hategan is on top of things and immediately awards a goal-kick instead of a penalty. VAR checks the decision before agreeing with the referee's original call.
30' CHANCE! Bastoni wanders forward and aims another curling left-footed cross towards Belotti at the far post. The Italian forward gets underneath it, but the ball falls to Chiesa, who rushes a right-footed strike from the right of goal and he manages to drag his effort wide. Chances are coming at both ends in this game and it appears only a matter of time before there is a goal.
28' Verratti spins one way and then the other, ignoring the wide option of Emerson and shooting for the top right corner. The Paris Saint-Germain man gets his right-footed shot all wrong, however, and it goes well wide of the target to the right.
27' CLOSE! Ramsey does the hard yards as he speeds towards the left of the Italian goal and forces Bonucci into hooking out for the first corner of the game for the away side. James delivers an inswinging cross towards the near post, where Gunter is unmarked but the centre-back can only head just over the crossbar. Page's men were inches away from opening the scoring there.
25' WIDE! Chiesa causes all sorts of problems 25 yards from goal as he twists and turns before finding Bernardeschi. The Italian forward rolls through for Belotti, who makes it to the right of goal before drilling a right-footed strike towards the bottom left corner. Ward is powerless to stop the effort but is grateful as he watches Belotti's attempt go wide to the left of goal.
23' Allen has two attempts to cross low into the box but on both occasions he gets crowded out by Italian defenders. On the midfielder's third try at regaining possession, he needlessly fouls Jorginho and the hosts get a free-kick.
22' Roberts buys a foul as he jumps into Emerson and referee Hategan awards a free-kick on the right-hand side. Bale then ends up down holding his back, after a clash with Bastoni in the air, and it looks like Page's captain may need a moment or two to compose himself.
21' James and Bale cut isolated figures up top for the Welsh, with a lack of service and a relentless Italian press cutting off their supply channels. The visitors do, however, enjoy a rare spell of possession, which comes to an end as Pessina heads out of play.
20' Italy are looking to win all three of their group stage matches for the fourth time at a major tournament, previously doing so at the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at EURO 2000.
18' Page's men have rarely seen possession so far but they are doing well to hold their shape and defend resolutely. They know a draw will secure a second-place finish and, for now, it appears that's what they have come to the Stadio Olimpico for.
17' CHANCE! Toloi roams down the right-hand side and angles a low cross towards the penalty spot. The ball cannons around the area, finding Pessina, who looks to redirect a right-footed effort towards the bottom right corner. Ward, however, sees it all the way and reacts quickly to dive down and make his second save of the game.
15' SAVE! Just like Bastoni moments earlier, Emerson has space in front of him inside the left-hand channel and the left-back drives into it. Emerson unleashes a low left-footed attempt, which bounces just in front of Ward, but the Welsh goalkeeper does well to watch the ball and make a save, without needing to parry.
13' Rodon produces a wonderful headed clearance inside his own six-yard area to clear away the danger from Chiesa's cross. Williams will feel he has to do better to stop the cross from the right-hand side, otherwise it could be a long afternoon for him and the Welsh defence.
12' CLOSE! Bastoni has acres of space to drive into and he does so as he wanders forward down the left-hand side. The centre-back then looks for Belotti at the back post and the forward is inches away from making contact with an acrobatic right-footed effort. Fortunately for Page's men, Belotti can't quite reach it and the ball goes out for a goal-kick.
11' Ward considers speeding out of his box to intervene in front of Emerson but he immediately turns around as he realises Belotti's pass is going out of play. With a slightly better ball into the left-hand channel, Ward's indecisiveness could have cost his team there.
10' Wales have made it out of the group stages in their previous two appearances at a major tournament (1958 World Cup, EURO 2016). If they avoid defeat in this game, they’re guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages of this tournament.
9' Bernardeschi powers down the right flank but is then wasteful as his throughball for Pessina is overhit and travels through to Ward. Unlike the trio of Insigne, Berardi and Immobile, the Italian forwards are failing to connect with one another at the minute.
7' Belotti seems interested for a moment or so as Bonucci plays him into the inside right-hand channel. Ward has different ideas, however, as he races off his line to sweep up the opportunity.
6' Bonucci sends a diagonal pass aimlessly over the top of the Welsh defence and into the hands of Ward. It has been a fairly sedate start from the Italians, which perhaps could have been expected, given the number of changes Mancini made.
4' Allen fails to latch onto a long pass into the area from the right flank but Williams is there to redirect towards the near post. Donnarumma, however, collects in front of James to remove the danger.
2' Bernardeschi squares up Williams but the chance to attack fades away as the Italian forward was adjudged to be offside in the right-hand channel.
1' With the national anthems over and done with, referee Ovidiu Hategan gets this game underway!
None of Italy and Wales’ previous nine meetings have ever ended in a draw, with Italy winning seven to Wales’ two victories. This is their first meeting at a major tournament.
Page makes three changes as he protects Davies, Mepham and Moore for a potential last-16 clash. The trio are all one booking away from a suspension, so Gunter, Ampadu and Williams take their places. It looks like Wales will change to a three-man defence, with either Bale and James as split strikers or Ramsey operating as a false nine in a 3-4-3 system.
Roberto Mancini opts for eight alterations, resting a number of key stars as he eyes the last-16 stage. Donnarumma, Jorginho and Bonucci, who takes the armband, are the only three to remain in the starting line-up. Bastoni takes the place of injured captain Giorgio Chiellini, while Emerson and Toloi both come in at full-back. In the middle, Verratti returns and Pessina replaces Locatelli. Up top, Mancini rings the changes as he rests Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Immobile and introduces Chiesa, Bernadeschi and Belotti.
SUBS: Ben Davies, Wayne Hennessey, David Brooks, Harry Wilson, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Adam Davies, Tyler Roberts, Tom Lockyer, Kieffer Moore, Chris Mepham, Dylan Levitt, Jonathan Williams.
WALES (3-5-2): Danny Ward; Chris Gunter, Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu; Neco Williams, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Morrell, Joe Allen, Connor Roberts; Daniel James, Gareth Bale.
SUBS: Gaetano Castrovilli, Lorenzo Insigne, Leonardo Spinazzola, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Salvatore Sirigu, Francesco Acerbi, Giacomo Raspadori, Alex Meret, Ciro Immobile, Bryan Cristante, Manuel Locatelli, Nicolo Barella.
ITALY (4-3-3): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Rafael Toloi, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Bastoni, Emerson; Jorginho, Marco Verratti, Matteo Pessina; Federico Bernadeschi, Andrea Belotti, Federico Chiesa.
Having earned a well-deserved point against Switzerland, largely thanks to Danny Ward’s heroics in goal, Wales put in a much more assured performance against Turkey to win 2-0. Due to the four best third-place finishers securing a last-16 spot, Rob Page’s men are virtually guaranteed to remain in the competition. A point, however, would secure second place for the visitors, while a defeat may also be enough if Switzerland fail to beat Turkey in the other Group A game.
Italy have won their first two games 3-0, coasting to victories over Turkey and then Switzerland to secure qualification to the knockout stages at Euro 2020. The Azzuri will be looking to confirm a first-place finish against Wales, while also looking to extend their unbeaten run to 30 games, which would equal their all-time longest unbeaten run (November 1935-July 1939).
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Euro 2020 Group A fixture between Italy and Wales.