VAZGEN SARGSYAN REPUBLICAN STADIUM (Yerevan) – Lorenzo Pellegrini picked the perfect time to score his first goal for Italy, as his header sent them on their way in a 3-1 victory over Armenia.
The Azzurri remain perfect in Euro 2020 qualifying with five wins from five matches, but it wasn’t easy on Thursday as they fell behind to an Aleksandre Karapetyan strike early to put the odds with bethard in Armenia’s favour.
Andrea Belotti levelled before Pellegrini – who came on for an ineffective Federico Chiesa – headed home an excellent Leonardo Bonucci cross to put Italy ahead, while the Torino man’s second on the night put the final word on proceedings.
Italy had conceded just once heading into the contest, so it was a real shocker to see them behind after just 11 minutes.
Nicolo Barella couldn’t get on to Federico Chiesa’s wayward pass, starting a counter for the home side. Tigran Barseghyan picked out Karapetyan, and the 31-year-old fired an angled drive that beat Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Italy turned up the pressure from there, with Federico Bernardeschi being denied by Airapetyan from close range.
It wasn’t long after that the Azzurri finally found their equalizer through Belotti. Emerson Palmieri beat his marker down the left, and he picked out the unmarked Torino man at the far post to level the match.
Bernardeschi nearly made it 2-1 seconds later, but his dipping strike clipped the top of the crossbar.
Karapetyan picked up a second booking with minutes remaining in the opening half, as his elbow caught Leonardo Bonucci – though replays showed it may have been a harsh decision.
The half came to an end with Belotti scuffing a great chance from in close after Chiesa’s volleyed assist picked out the striker with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Belotti had a goal called back for offside in the first half, and Emerson added to that tally right after the restart as he tapped home after the ball had already gone out of play.
From there the Azzurri struggled to make the most of their numerical advantage to frustrate punters using unibonuscodes, with Armenia posing problems on the counter on more than one occasion.
However the breakthrough finally came with just over 10 minutes remaining. Bonucci fired in a cross from a deep position that Pellegrini headed into the far post to finally break Armenia’s resistance.
The three points were secured minutes later as Belotti found space in the penalty area after collecting Stefano Sensi’s pass. His strike found the inside of the post, but came off the back of Ayrapetyan and into the back of the net.