Stefano Sensi cancelled out Edin Dzeko’s opener as Italy were held to a 1-1 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina in their opening Nations League Group A1 match.
The result brings an end to the Azzurri’s run of 11 consecutive victories, though Friday’s encounter was their first in 10 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A dull first half was quickly forgotten after the restart as Dzeko gave the away side a shock lead after some poor Italy defending, however Sensi’s deflected effort 10 minutes later levelled the score at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
However with both teams low on fitness as the match wore on there was to be no winner, unlike the other Group A1 match which saw Netherlands pick up a 1-0 victory over Poland.
The opening 45 minutes provided very little in terms of attacking football, as Italy struggled to break down a Bosnia side that was more than happy to sit deep.
Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa saw early chances go wide of the mark, with the Napoli man sending a free kick over the bar as well. Bosnia’s only real venture forward saw Edin Visca fire over the goal from what looked like a promising position.
Meanwhile at the other end Andrea Belotti couldn’t get a clear shot off his foot which allowed Ibrahim Sehic to easily gather, while Nicolo Barella saw a bit of an opening only to fire wide from distance.
Italy pushed forward after the restart with Insigne firing a patented right-footed curling effort on goal, but Sehic was in good position and easily gathered.
Bosnia responded against the run of play as two Italy players couldn’t handle a long ball over the top. That let Armin Hodzic in on goal, but after skipping past Gianluigi Donnarumma, he fired off the post from the tightest of angles.
The scare woke Italy up as they responded immediately. Chiesa fired a cross to the back post that found Insigne, but he sent his close range header off the bar.
A breakthrough came soon after, but unfortunately for Mancini and his men, it was Bosnia that took the lead. The away side fired a corner into the box that was flicked on twice and eventually fell to Dzeko, who made no mistake in firing home from six yards.
The lead lasted all of 10 minutes as Italy’s increased pressure paid off. Sensi spread the play out wide for Insigne, who laid it back in the middle for the Inter man, who’s sliding effort took a deflection off Toni Sunjic and left Sehic with no chance.
Chiesa picked out Florenzi with a great pass on an overlapping run down the right, however his angled drive was expertly parried away by an alert Sehic.
Donnarumma was tested by a Visca effort from distance as the minutes began to wind down, however there would be no winner for Mancini’s men as they saw their winning run come to a somewhat unexpected end.