TAMPERE STADION (Tampere, Finland) – Italy were made to work for their 2-1 victory over Finland at the Tampere Stadion with Jorginho grabbing the eventual winner for Roberto Mancini’s men as they cemented their place atop Euro 2020 qualification Group J.
Ciro Immobile opened the scoring just before the hour, but Teemu Pukki levelled from the spot 13 minutes later much to delight of the 16,292 strong Tampere crowd. However, Jorginho bagged a penalty for the Azzurri to restore the lead and make sure of all three points.
As a result, the Azzurri are now six points clear of the Huuhkajat at the top of Group J with just four matches of qualification left to play.
Finland’s only victory over Italy came way back in 1912, and the last match the pair played was a 2-0 win for Italy back in March.
It was tough going from the off for Italy as Finland pressed the Azzurri high, never allowing Mancini’s men to settle.
Then came a heart-in-mouth moment for the Azzurri when Sauli Vaisanen’s corner was flicked across the six-yard box into the path of Albin Granlund who could only poke over the bar.
The night got a little more complicated for Italy as Emerson Palmieri had to go off with a hamstring injury following a footrace with Teemu Pukki.
Both sides had good efforts on goal as first Glen Kamara had a shot blocked by Francesco Acerbi, following a Jorginho mistake. Then a Stefano Sensi rocket was expertly saved by Luka Hradecky as it seemed destined for he top corner.
Just before half time a low cross from Nicolo Barella found Federico Chiesa but he was denied by Hradecky.
After the break, Pukki was again the main danger for Finland and he was played in on goal but blasted wide of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal.
However, the breakthrough came just before the hour when a Chiesa cross took a deflection off Paulus Arajuuri into the path of Immobile who headed home his first international goal since September 2017.
The lead didn’t last long as Pukki was pulled back by Sensi in the penalty are and Scottish referee Robert Madden pointed to the spot. The Norwich City man then stepped up and rifled down the centre, past Donnarumma.
Italy retook the lead when Vaisanen handled a Barella shot in the box, which resulted in another penalty. This time Jorginho slotted low into he right-hand corner for his second ever Azzurri goal.