A Grifo brace and goals from Bernardeschi and Orsolini secure a comfortable win against EstoniaItaly run out 4-0 winners in Florence as five players make their Azzurri debuts
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Italy ran out comfortable 4-0 winners against Estonia this evening, a victory that will only help the Azzurri as they look to enter the World Cup qualifying draw on 7 December as a seeded side. The win was secured thanks to Vincenzo Grifo’s brace and goals from Federico Bernardeschi and Riccardo Orsolini on an evening where various players made their Italy debuts at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. Two goals from outside the box, something which hasn’t happened in the same match since Zaniolo and Barella found the net against Armenia in November 2019, and two penalties ensured that the Azzurri enjoyed a very comfortable evening.
The result was never in doubt: Estonia offered very little threat going forward, apart from when they hit the post following a deflection off Bastoni immediately after Italy’s second goal. These were 90 useful minutes for the Azzurri ahead of their two upcoming fixtures in the Nations League: on Sunday, Mancini’s men will face Poland in Reggio Emilia, while they’ll then travel to Sarajevo to take on Bosnia on Wednesday 18 November.
THE MATCH – With the team decimated by injuries and positive COVID-19 cases, something which has also affected Roberto Mancini, Italy took to the pitch without a Head Coach in the dugout for the first time in their history. Taking his place on the bench was his assistant Alberico Evani, who watched an experimental side take to the pitch. Sirigu, the captain for the evening, was selected between the sticks, while Di Lorenzo, D’Ambrosio, Bastoni (his Italy debut) and Emerson lined up in defence. Soriano, Tonali and Gagliardini were chosen in midfield, with Bernardeschi (his first appearance for Italy since he played against Bosnia on 15 November 2019), Lasagna and Grifo forming an attacking trident.
On paper, it was always going to be an easy match against a side that plays in League C of the UEFA Nations League. Italy had their first effort at goal in the eighth minute, with Bernardeschi’s 20-yard shot taking a slight deflection off Lasagna and ending up in Meerits’ arms.
Six minutes later, the first goal of the evening was scored as Freiburg striker Vincenzo Grifo unleashed a thunderous strike that went in via the post, a brilliant way to open his goalscoring account for the Azzurri. Having broke the deadlock, Italy doubled their lead through Bernardeschi, who cut inside from the right and picked out the near bottom corner with his left from outside the box
A minute later, Estonia almost pulled one back, with Livak’s cross coming off Bastoni and striking Sirigu’s left post. Nevertheless, Italy were the side in control and continued to look threatening up until the half-time whistle.
After the restart, Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina came on to make his debut, replacing Tonali and becoming the 29th debutant since Mancini’s reign began. As for Estonia, they started to play in a more aggressive manner but never posed any sort of danger. In the 56th minute, Lasagna fought for the ball in the box, laid it off for Soriano, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Grifo almost scored his second of the match, but his attempt was deflected behind for a corner. A minute later, Pellegri and Pellegrini came on for debuts (replacing Lasagna and Emerson), while Bernardeschi made way for Orsolini.
Immediately after, Gagliardini was tripped in the area and Grifo stepped up to score the resulting penalty after 74 minutes.
In the 80th minute, Calabria also made his first Azzurri appearance (becoming the 32nd debutant of the Mancini era), with El Shaarawy also taking to the pitch. Five minutes later, Orsolini was brought down in the box, and the same player converted Italy’s second spot-kick of the night for his second Azzurri goal in two games.
Later on this evening, Francesco Acerbi and Nicolò Barella will join up with the squad at Coverciano. The Lazio defender and Inter midfielder will thus be available to Mancini and his staff for Italy’s upcoming Nations League fixtures against Poland and Bosnia.