Euro 2020 matchday one: Italy stuff Turkey in European Championship opener

Italy Turkey Euro 2020 Soccer
(Image credit: Ettore Ferrari)

Italy made a winning start in the opening match of Euro 2020 as they comfortably beat Turkey 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

Turkey defender Merih Demiral’s own goal early in the second half gave the Italians a deserved lead and their impressive display was rewarded by further goals from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.

Roberto Mancini’s men are now unbeaten in 28 matches and posted a clear warning to Europe’s other leading sides with a dominant display in a ninth-straight win.

A spectacular opening ceremony was watched by a quarter-full stadium of 16,000 spectators in the Italian capital and the hosts could have easily won by a bigger margin as their weary-looking Group A rivals were over run.

Tweet of the day

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Italy were in complete control after Immobile deservedly doubled their lead by being alert to score for a third-successive international game. Actor Ralf Little was among those to make a pun on the Lazio striker’s name.

Snap shot

Fireworks illuminate the sky above Stadio Olimpico. Almost a year to the day since Euro 2020 was originally due to start, Rome staged the opening ceremony of the rescheduled tournament

Fireworks illuminated the sky above Stadio Olimpico as – almost a year to the day since Euro 2020 was originally due to start – Rome staged the opening ceremony (Riccardo De Luca/AP)

Stat attack

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In their 39th European Championship match, Italy scored three goals in a single game for the first time. The result was also the biggest victory in an opening game of a Euros.

Moment of the match

Turkey defender Merih Demiral, left, scored an unfortunate own goal, to the delight of Italy forward Domenico Berardi

Turkey defender Merih Demiral (left) scored an unfortunate own goal, to the delight of Italy forward Domenico Berardi (Ettore Ferrari/AP)

It may not have been the most memorable opening goal of a tournament but the own goal from Juventus defender Demiral completely changed the complexion of the game. Defensive Turkey had been content to soak up pressure and allow the match to drift towards a goalless draw. The 53rd-minute breakthrough, forced by Domenico Berardi’s powerful centre, put paid to that plan and Italy duly added gloss to a dominant display to run out emphatic victors.

Blast from the past

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Italy were back in tournament action for the first time in five years having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Mancini’s men went into this Group A opener seeking to extend a 27-match unbeaten run –  22 wins and five draws – stretching back to defeat to Portugal in September 2018. They were backed by the majority of those in attendance, which included 2006 World Cup winners Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti.

Shades of Italia 90

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Italy was staging its first major tournament fixture since the 1990 World Cup. For many football fans, the sound of the late Luciano Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma was among the most unforgettable moments of that competition. Fellow Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli brought memories flooding back with his own stirring rendition ahead of kick-off as fireworks lit up the sky above the Stadio Olimpico.

Wheelie good idea

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie picks up the match ball, which was delivered by a remote-controlled car

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie picks up the match ball, which was delivered by a remote-controlled car (Alberto Lingria/AP)

The teary-eyed nostalgia conjured by Bocelli was swiftly replaced by bemusement as the match ball was delivered to the centre circle in unconventional fashion. One of the tournament’s sponsors pulled off a masterstoke by opting to drive a branded remote-controlled car onto the field, with the ball balanced on top. The quirky stunt had the desired effect, gaining plenty of traction, particularly on social media.

Man of the match

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There were plenty of Italian candidates for the accolade following a comprehensive success. Left-back Leonardo Spinazzola and goal-scorer Immobile were among those to impress, while veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho effectively went about their business. However, Insigne was a livewire all evening, capped by his composed finish, and just pipped his team-mates to the award. The Napoli man will no doubt be key to Italy’s hopes of winning the competition for the first time since 1968.

What’s next?

June 12:
Wales v Switzerland (Group A, Baku, 14.00)
Denmark v Finland (Group B, Copenhagen, 17.00)
Belgium v Russia (Group B, St Petersburg, 20.00)

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