Nazionale A Femminile

No let-up for Italy as the Azzurre beat China to make the quarter-finals

Milena Bertolini's side march on thanks to Giacinti and Galli goals. The Coach: "Today was a great gift." Gravina: "These girls are writing history

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

No let-up for Italy as the Azzurre beat China to make the quarter-finals

This incredible tournament for Milena Bertolini’s side goes on. Italy were determined and brave, doing what they had to in the final third to beat China 2-0 while staying compact at the back. The result sends the Azzurre through to the quarter-final for the first time since 1991 when the Women’s World Cup consisted of twelve teams. It also keeps Italy in the running for the Tokyo Olympics with qualifying spots reserved to the three best European sides at this competition. On Saturday, the Azzurre will return to where it all began in Valenciennes to face the Netherlands or Japan at 15:00 CEST and we can dare to dream.

Traditional power China have slipped to 16th in the FIFA ranking and Italy started the match at a high tempo. League top scorer Valentina Giacinti scored her first goal of the tournament after 16 minutes. Just the other side of the break, a rocket from Valentina Giacinti gave the Azzurre breathing room and it was her third goal of the tournament as a substitute.

The Italian fans were celebrating on the stands while Milena Bertolini was draped in the flag a day after celebrating her 53rd birthday and the match proved to be the perfect gift. “They gave me a great present,” said the Coach straight after. “We’re doing great things and we need the passion from the Italian fans because the standard rises the further you go. It’s an incredible result after a tough match, perhaps we didn’t play well. Today, we didn’t play beautiful football but that’s not all that matters in football. The girls gave everything and were clinical.” 

Once again, Gabriele Gravina attended the match alongside CEO Marco Brunelli. “It’s an extraordinary result,” said the FIGC President. “Extraordinary for our National Team and for all of Italian football, not just women’s football. To make the quarter-finals with another great performance is better than what we could have hoped for. These extraordinary girls are writing history.”

Match Report - China only conceded one goal in the first three group games and Milena Bertolini counted on the speed of Valentina Bergamaschi to trouble them as she took Galli’s place in midfield. Elsewhere, the team was the same as the one against Brazil with Giacinti as the focal point up front. Jia Xiuquan set China up in a 4-4-2 formation with Paris Saint Germain’s Wang Shuang the one to watch on the right flank although she often had to track back and help the team in defence. China were in safe hands with Peng Shimeng in goal after she played a decisive role in the draw against Spain.

Italy looked to be the more proactive side but without trying to force things. The Azzurre didn’t press too hard high up the pitch, also due to the great heat. In the 10th minute, Girelli played it through for Giacinti who scored but the assistant referee flagged for offside and VAR confirmed it was the correct decision. Two minutes later, it was Serie A’s top scorer who made the most of a Han Peng error but the shoe went wide of Peng Shimeng’s left post. It was third time lucky as the Azzurre broke the deadlock. Wu Haiyan failed to clear her lines and kicked it straight to Giacinti, she came in from the left flank and played it to Bonansea. She kept going and found Bartoli at the far post, Peng Shimeng came off her line and took her out but the advantage was played and Giacinti pounced on the loose ball to score her first goal at the World Cup.

1-0 up, Italy started to sit deeper. China’s first real sight of goal came in the 27th minute from a long Wang Yan shot but Giuliani did well to backpedal and tip it over the bar. In the 33rd minute, a Guagni ball sent Bergamaschi through but her shot across goal was well saved by Peng Shimeng. China kept posing more of a threat as time went on and Milena Bertolini looked to shore things up in the 40th minute by bringing Galli on for Girelli. It would prove to be a decisive substitution. China had more chances before the whistle with Guagni sliding in to deny Gu Yasha.

China aimed to press the issue in the second half and Yang Li came on up front. In the 50th minute, however, Italy doubled the lead through Galli. She hit a great strike from long range that found the bottom corner and it was the third goal of the tournament for the Juventus midfielder after her brace against Jamaica and she’s scored them all as a substitute. At 2-0, Italy looked to deny China space and the height of Ilaria Mauro came in useful as she replaced Bergamaschi. Martina Rosucci also came off the bench to make her first appearance of the tournament for Bonansea. Italy’s backline held firm and Giuliani wasn’t in too much danger of adding to her tally of just two goals conceded at the World Cup. Valenciennes will be the venue for the quarter-final, at the stadium where the fairytale began.


Goals: 15’ Giacinti (I), 50’ Galli (I)

ITALY: Giuliani; Guagni, Gama (C), Linari, Bartoli; Giugliano, Cernoia, Bergamaschi (64’ Mauro); Girelli (40’ Galli); Bonansea (71’ Rosucci), Giacinti. Substitutes: Marchitelli, Fusetti, Boattin, Cimini Tucceri, Parisi, Serturini, Sabatino, Tarenzi, Pipitone. Coach: Milena Bertolini.

CHINA: Peng Shimeng; Liu Shanshan, Lin Yuping, Wu Haiyan (C), Han Peng; Wang Yan (62’ Yao Wei), Zhang Rui, Gu Yasha (46’ Yang Li), Wang Shanshan (62’ Song Duan); Li Ying, Wang Shuang. Substitutes: Xu Huan, Lou Jiahui, Li Jiahui, Wang Ying, Li Wen, Bi Xiaolin, Tan Ruyin, Luo Guiping, Liu Yanqiu. Coach: Jia Xiuquan.

Referee: Edina Alves Batista (Bra). Assistants: Neuza Back (Bra) and Tatiane Sacillotti Dos Santos Camargo (Bra). Fourth official: Laura Fortunato. VAR: Mauro Vigliano (Arg). AVAR: Mariana De Almeida (Arg) and Tiago Martins (Por).

Notes:  Attendance 17.492. No bookings

Arbitro: Edina Alves Batista (Bra). Assistenti: Neuza Back (Bra) e Tatiane Sacillotti Dos Santos Camargo (Bra). Quarto ufficiale: Laura Fortunato. VAR: Mauro Vigliano (Arg). AVAR: Mariana De Almeida (Arg) e Tiago Martins (Por).

Note: spettatori 17.492. Nessuna ammonita