Matteo Pessina scored the only goal as Italy beat Wales in Rome, but both teams could celebrate safe passage through to the last 16.
Matteo Pessina’s first-half goal was enough to ensure Italy beat Wales 1-0 to finish Group A with a perfect record, but their opponents in Rome could nonetheless also celebrate their progress to the round of 16.
Match in brief
The eight changes made by Roberto Mancini looked to have done little to halt the Azzurri’s momentum, with Andrea Belotti and Fedrico Chiesa both threatening to break the deadlock in the opening half-hour. Chris Gunter, without a goal in his 102 caps, went closest for Wales in the first half when he headed on to the roof of the net.
Pessina did find a way through before the break, though, helping on Marco Verratti’s free-kick with the cutest of side-footed glances which took the ball beyond Danny Ward’s dive.
When Federico Bernardeschi struck a post and Ethan Ampadu was shown a straight red card in the opening ten minutes of the second half, Wales’s task looked to have morphed into one of damage limitation. They stood firm, however, and might even earned a point had captain Gareth Bale managed to control his back-post volley.
It mattered not, as Robert Page’s side nevertheless go through as group runners-up, finishing ahead of Switzerland on goal difference.
Star of the Match: Federico Chiesa (Italy)
“Energetic and always looking to get crosses in. A really consistent performance.”
Jean-François Domergue, UEFA Technical Observer
Paolo Menicucci, Italy reporter
A perfect group stage record; a 30th consecutive game without defeat; 11 straight clean sheets; key players rested on Matchday 3. The Azzurri have passed their Group A test with flying colours and will travel to London with the wind in their sails.
Mark Pitman, Wales reporter
The aim was to qualify for the round of 16, and that’s what Wales have done. This was a tough assignment, but the young players in the side will have learned a lot from the experience of taking on very talented opponents. A great chance for Bale in the second half could have made it a very different story, but this was a result that Italy fully deserved.
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach: “We couldn’t have done better. Maybe we could have scored more goals but it was extremely hot and a very physical game, so the lads did really well. It’s important that the identity of the team remains the same even when we change three or four players. They all know what to do and the end product does not change.”
Robert Page, Wales coach: “We didn’t want the game to open up and be end-to-end. We didn’t want to concede two or three goals and we were hoping to use the three up front on the break, but of course when we were down to ten men it was tough and we did well at the back.”
Marco Verratti, Italy midfielder: “When we say that this team is for everyone, we’re not just saying that. There are 26 of us and we’re all proud to represent our country and ready to give our best.
- Italy have gone 30 games without defeat, equalling the record of Vittorio Pozzo’s side in the 1930s.
- Italy have kept 11 consecutive clean sheets, scoring 32 goals in the process, and have not conceded a goal in over 1,000 minutes, since a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League in October 2020.
- The Azzurri end Group A with the record W3 D0 L0 F7 A0. Their previous best record in a EURO group was in 2000: W3 D0 L0 F6 A2.
- Pessina has scored three goals in his last three appearances for Italy.
- Italy have conceded just two goals in their ten EURO final tournament matches on home soil.
- Italy will play their round of 16 game at Wembley; their record there reads W2 D3 L1. Their overall record in England is W7 D6 L11.
- Wales will go to Amsterdam for the last 16; they have lost both previous games in the city and on all five visits to the Netherlands, scoring one goal and conceding 16.
Italy: Donnarumma (Sirigu 89); Tolói, Bonucci (Acerbi 46), Bastoni, Emerson; Pessina (Castrovilli 87), Jorginho (Cristante 75), Verratti; Chiesa, Belotti, Bernardeschi (Raspadori 75)
Wales: Ward; Gunter, Rodon, Ampadu; C Roberts, Allen (Levitt 86), Morrell (Moore 60), N Williams (Davies 86); Bale (Brooks 86), Ramsey, James (Wilson 74)