Italy booked their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, reaching the final eight for the fourth consecutive European Championship with a narrow 2-1 win over Austria, after extra time.
Matteo Pessina got was to be the winner after fellow substitute Federico Chiesa opened the scoring in extra time, as Austria fought tooth and nail to keep the Azzurri out.
The first half was Italy’s, but they failed to make their dominance count as Austria stood impressively firm at the back.
Leonardo Spinazzola and Nicolo Barella with the Azzurri’s most threatening players, with the Roma wing-back, in particular, dominating his flank.
But the half’s closest attempt came from Ciro Immobile who, seemingly frustrated with a lack of space in behind the Austrian backline, looked to pick out the top corner with a driven long-range effort. His shot came within inches and clipped the outside of the post, narrowly missing the top corner.
Marko Arnautovic gave Leonardo Bonucci a scare and might have done better with the one chance that fell his way before the break as Austria looked dangerous on the break.
Austria grew into the game after half time and as time ticked away, and Italy’s grew more and more nervous. Arnautovic again gave Bonucci a hard time as the Juventus defender slipped to let him gallop towards goal only to fall short with a poor effort once he reached the area.
The ex-Inter forward did put the ball in the net after being found by David Alaba, but VAR intervened and ruled that he had wandered into an offside position before the new Real Madrid man cleverly headed into his path.
Roberto Mancini made two double substitutions in an attempt to inject some life into Italy’s performance, but Austria were well on top as the 90th minute approached. By the end of the 90, it was Italy who were the most relieved of the two sides to get to extra time.
The Italy of the first half reemerged in extra time, much to Mancini’s relief. Federico Chiesa, fresher than most having come on late, had a chance that he should have scored just seconds before taking one to put Italy ahead. Spinazzola found him and, after taking two nice touches to set himself, he fired across goal with his weaker left foot to score.
That lead was doubled soon after through Atalanta’s Matteo Pessina. Having not even been in Mancini’s initial 26-man squad, Lorenzo Pellegrini’s replacement found himself teed up nicely by Insigne to finish similarly to Chiesa, only from the other side.
Just as nerves started to settle, Austria pulled one back. A corner came in shy of the first post but was helped on its way by Sasa Kalajdzic and, somehow, his header crept in at Gianluigi Donnarumma’s near post.