Updated: June 27, 2021 9:29:47 am
Unbeaten Italy emerged victorious yet again at the UEFA Euro Cup Round of 16 late Sunday evening. A gripping game against a resilient Austrian side extended into Extra Time at The Wembley Stadium, leaving spectators anxious till the final whistle. In a 2-1 victory over the underdogs, Italy narrowly edged their way into the quarter-finals, just about surviving an unexpected Austrian scare. Here are some key moments from the game:
Immobile mobilises Italy’s attack
Despite multiple attempts on target by Italy, the Austrian side just about managed to keep their opposition strikers at bay, restricting Italy to a 0-0 finish at the end of the first 90 minutes. 32 minutes into the game, a brilliant strike from Italy’s Ciro Immobile found its way to the crossbar from over 25 yards out. Immobile had been building up to a scoring moment throughout the early minutes of the game, with several attempts at locating an opening. He found this opening and managed to beat Austria’s Daniel Bachmann in this beautifully timed shot, only to have the ball dip in- narrowly skimming over the net and into the post.
Arnautovic almost makes it for Austria
The second half saw Austria dominating the Italian side, and creating far more opportunities for victory. In a 65th minute surprise, Italy’s defence collapsed to an incoming ball from Austria, allowing captain David Alaba to create an opening for teammate Marko Arnautović. Alaba headed the ball towards the penalty box, and a gallant run from Arnautović saw him slide past multiple Italian defenders and head the ball over Gianluigi Donnarumma and into Italy’s goal. However, Arnautović’s run seemed an early one from the onset, and a VAR check which had the entire stadium holding their breath confirmed the offside. Austria’s celebrations were interrupted, and a seemingly defeated Italy remained alive in this intense Round of 16 matchup.
Chiesa finishes with class
An 84th minute substitute Federico Chiesa stepped onto the field for the first half of Extra Time amidst an anxious Wembley audience. Austria seemed to be dominating once again, however the game turned around completely within minutes. A 95th minute miracle saw Italy’s Leonardo Spinazzola curl the ball in towards Chiesa, who was standing unmarked near the edge of the penalty box. As Austrian defenders swarmed towards Chiesa, he chested the ball, strategically touched it down to create an opening, and whipped it powerfully across Bachmann into the back of Austria’s net. The ball found its way into the bottom left corner despite the awkward angle in which Chiesa was positioned. Italy had found their lead, and Austria’s hopes were slipping away.
Substitutes shine at Wembley
As Austria struggled to stay alive, Italy struck once again. In the 105th minute, another Italian substitute: Matteo Pessina, skillfully guided the ball into Austria’s goal. After a delivery from an Austrian corner was cleared out, Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne worked the ball back to the opposition’s box down the left of the field. The ball stumbled to Pessina, who smashed it past several defenders, and into the bottom right corner. There was no way Bachmann could stop Pessina’s strike, and having doubled their lead in the span of 10 minutes, Italy was nearly there.
Is it over?
With 2 goals behind Italy and 15 minutes left, Austria entered the second half of Extra Time with newfound determination. As Louis Schaub curled in a corner to the near post in the 114th minute, Austrian substitute Sasa Kalajdzic squeezed a low header into the bottom right corner of Italy’s goal in an exceedingly tight angle. What a night for the substitutes! Italy had conceded a goal after 11 matches and somehow Austria were holding onto a glimmer of hope. However, there was too little time, and Italy had done enough. In what was probably one of the most exhilarating knockout matches, Italy eventually found their way past Austria’s unreal determination with 2 goals to 1.
The struggle with Austria prepared Italy for the worst. They have been pushed to their limits despite having been the ‘favourites’ after their winning streak in Group A. Through to the Quarter-finals, Italy will now face the winner of Belgium and Portugal on 3rd July.