Italy become the first side to clinch place for Euro 2020 Round of 16

Roberto Mancini’s Italy became the first team to enter the Round of 16 of Euro 2020 football matches following the 3-0 win over Switzerland in their second match at home. The Azzurri, now unbeaten in 29 matches and having won their last 10 games without conceding a goal, sit first in Group A and are guaranteed a top-two finish and last-16 berth. Switzerland now has one point and Turkey has zero.

Midfielder Manuel Locatelli scored two goals and another one from Ciro Immobile to help the team seal their contention to the quarter-finals. Locatelli’s first goal came following an exchange with Sassuolo teammate Domenico Berardi midway through the first half before hitting his long, low shot shortly after the break. Ciro Immobile added the third with another long-range effort in the 89th to seal the win. 

At age 23, Locatelli became the tournament’s youngest scorer so far. “I’m fortunate to have great players who enjoy playing soccer, like to have fun and take some risks — which is the essence of soccer,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. Mancini also admitted that they still have threats to conquer, with France, Portugal and Belgium in mind. 

“One of them is the World Cup champion, one is the European champion and one has been first in the ranking for quite a while,” Mancini said. “They’ve been shaped over time and it’s only normal that they’re ahead of us. But anything can happen in soccer. It’s not such a sure thing.” In the final group games, Italy remains in Rome to face Wales while Switzerland returns to Baku to face Turkey.

However, it was a bittersweet victory for Mancini as he lost captain Giorgio Chiellini to an injury.  Chiellini is expected to undergo further testing after limping off injured in just 24 minutes on the pitch. “We’ll see tomorrow and hope it’s nothing serious,” Mancini told a news portal. “Nothing can tarnish such a great joy. We are in the second round! Go on like this!” Chiellini posted on Twitter after the game.

Elsewhere, Russia bounced back from their opening loss as they clinched their first victory in Group B, beating Finland 1-0 thanks to a goal from Aleksey Miranchuk on home soil in Saint Petersburg. Yaremchuk and Yarmolenko’s first half goals gave Ukraine a 2-1 win over North Macedonia to keep them in contention for the Round of 16 of the competition. 

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