Nazionale A Femminile

Italy suffer first setback in World Cup qualifying: Switzerland run out 2-1 winners in Palermo

The Swiss move three points clear at the top of Group G. The Azzurre will play their final match of 2021 against Romania on Tuesday

Friday, November 26, 2021

Italy suffer first setback in World Cup qualifying: Switzerland run out 2-1 winners in Palermo

Italy Women suffered their first setback in World Cup qualifying today: at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo, the Azzurre lost 2-1 to Switzerland, who now sit three points clear at the top of Group G. Italy’s attempt to overcome various absences and difficulties fell short against a solid Swiss side that started quickly and managed to emerge victorious despite the Azzurre’s vehement efforts to overturn the deficit.

The afternoon began poorly for Milena Bertolini’s girls, who were on the wrong end of a quick-fire double blow as Sow and Crnogorčević netted first-half goals. Bonansea’s finish on the hour mark reduced the arrears and led to late pressure on the Swiss goal, with the same player hitting the bar in added time. With Serturini’s introduction having added impetus to the Azzurre’s play, Italy came close to levelling matters on several occasions; however, ultimately, it wasn’t to be. After the full-time whistle, the crowd, who appreciated the effort they’d seen, applauded Gama and Co., who will be looking to bounce back when they face Romania in Voluntari at 17:30 CET on Tuesday in their final game of 2021.

“We started a bit nervously,” said Bertolini after the game. “After a poor start, we began to play better, managing difficult moments well. In the second half, the girls gave it everything and created numerous goalscoring opportunities. A draw would have been a fairer result, but now we need to turn the page and focus on Tuesday’s match.”

The game – Despite once again sending her team out in a 3-4-3 formation, Milena Bertolini was forced to make several changes for this afternoon’s clash due to various absences. Lining up in front of Juventus trio Gama, Lenzini and Salvai in defence were Giugliano and Linari, with the latter in a more advanced position than usual and tasked with adding physicality to a midfield deprived of Caruso, Galli, Greggi and Rosucci. Boattin and Bergamaschi were selected on the flanks, while Bonansea, Giacinti and Girelli formed a trident up front. Meanwhile, Swiss Head Coach Nils Nielsen was without Roma player Banusic but could count on the services of Barcelona and PSG strikers Ana Maria Crnogorčević and Ramona Bachmann.

Switzerland started well and had a chance in the fifth minute, when, instead of shooting, Bachmann tried in vain to dribble past Azzurre goalkeeper Giuliani. Italy were struggling to find the right distances between the lines, allowing their opponents to make inroads. In the ninth minute, Crnogorčević escaped down the right flank and played a ball in for Sow, who headed home at the far post. Ten minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead, with Crnogorčević going from provider to goalscorer as she nodded in Bachmann’s cross from the left wing. The Azzurre’s first real opportunity came after 27 minutes, but Giacinti’s shot from inside the box was too close to Thalmann. The first half ended with Bertolini’s side putting the pressure on, but they weren’t able to make the most out of corners or free kicks in dangerous positions.

After the restart, the Swiss initially controlled proceedings, coming close to netting a third on two occasions. Having survived those scares, Italy pulled one back through Bonansea, whose shot from distance took a deflection before landing in the net. As the minutes ticked by, the Azzurre started to play like they know how again, forcing Switzerland back. Serturini’s introduction had allowed Italy to create overloads down the right, and it’s from this flank where the team’s biggest chances arrived. In the final minutes, Bonansea hit the bar and, seconds later, Girelli was inches away from connecting with the ball and bagging a late equaliser. The full-time whistle was blown and the Swiss celebrated. Italy left the pitch with their heads held high and surrounded by the warmth of the 9000 fans who were in the stands in Palermo.


GOALS: 9’ Sow, 19’ Crnogorčević, 60’ Bonansea

ITALY (3-4-3): Giuliani; Gama, Salvai, Lenzini (80’ Soffia); Bergamaschi (54’ Serturini), Giugliano, Linari (80’ Simonetti), Boattin; Bonansea, Giacinti (87’ Pirone), Girelli. Subs: Durante, Schroffenegger, Di Guglielmo, Soffia, Cinotti, Pandini, Bonfantini, Glionna. Head Coach: Bertolini

SWITZERLAND (3-5-2): Thalmann; Bühler, Stierli, Aigbogun; Maritz, Xhemaili (65’ Mauron), Wälti, Sow, Bachmann; Folmli (79’ Lehmann), Crnogorčević. Subs: Peng, Friedli, Marti, Rinast, Calligaris, Pando, Kiwic, De Alem, Julini, Piubel, Lehmann. Head Coach: Nielsen

REFEREE: Frappart (FRA). Assistants: Nicolosi (FRA) and Coppola (FRA). Fourth Official: Elbour (FRA)

NOTE: Bachmann booked