TAMPERE STADION (Tampere, Finland) – After a less than comfortable 2-1 win over Finland, Italy boss Roberto Mancini feels the Azzurri more than merited the victory.
Ciro Immobile put the Azzurri ahead, but Teemu Pukki levelled from the spot, before Jorginho grabbed all three points with a late penalty of his own.
“In my opinion we were convincing against Armenia, we dominated and created lots of chances,” Mancini told the press.
“Against Finland we played very well and created lots of chances again, though the result was a little close.
“I never said we are in bad shape in attack. Belotti and Immobile are in the squad because they are good players.
In terms of his choices, Mancini feels that whatever team he chooses he will be criticised either way.
“If you win, the choices are right, and if you lose or draw they are bad,” he said. “The mentality we have is good and a draw wouldn’t have been correct.
“We had a lot of chances and their goalkeeper made five or six incredible saves.
“We have had to travel twice, long distances It’s been a short week, not the nine days which we usually have.
“I like Lorenzo Pellegrini on the left, he gets to the penalty area and arrives late like a central midfielder. He gets back well and gets stuck in. Having such a flexible player is important.”
Despite giving away the penalty which brought Finland level, Stefano Sensi was also singled out for praise by Mancini.
“Technically he is very good,” Mancini said. “He has as much quality as the others. We didn’t miss Marco [Verratti] who is a fundamental player for us.”
Finland now trail Italy by six points in Group J, and Mancini was surprised by one element in the home side’s game.
“The only surprise for me was that Finland started with five defenders,” Mancini went on. “They did well in their last four games with a 4-4-2, but changed their system tonight.
“They are a solid team and started strong but after that we took the initiative and deserved to win, having more possession and shots.”
Finally, the Finland fans backed their team throughout, with the players then going to thank the curve after the match.
“The game was fantastic, the Finnish fans were incredible,” Mancini said jokingly, “but Italian fans are better.”