regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 November 2023

Euro 2020: Wales in last 16, Switzerland hopeful

Gareth Bale and company qualify for the knockout stages despite losing to Italy; Turkey exit tournament after third straight defeat

Our Bureau And Agencies Published 21.06.21, 09:16 AM
Wales are at no. 2 in the Group A standings.

Wales are at no. 2 in the Group A standings. Twitter/@vumaSPORT

Italy coach Roberto Mancini made as many as eight changes to his starting line-up versus Wales on Sunday. And with the 1-0 win over Gareth Bale and company, he established his claim that all his 26 members have it in them to be starters. The Dragons lost to the Azzurri but managed to make it to the round of 16 from Group A as runners up, nudging Switzerland to third spot on goal difference. In the other face-off, Switzerland ensured Turkey’s exit with a 3-1 win, and kept their round of 16 hopes alive. The Swiss will now vie for a spot in the knockouts as one of the four best third-placed finishers from the six groups.


Matteo Pessina scores for Azzurri

Italy finished at the top of their Euro 2020 group as Matteo Pessina’s first-half goal helped a much-changed Azzurri side beat 10-man Wales 1-0 in Rome, while the visitors held on to second place despite the defeat. The Italians had already guaranteed their progress from Group A, but they assured themselves of the first place with a victory.

Italy are now unbeaten in 30 games, equalling their all-time best run recorded from 1935 to 1939, and kept a clean sheet for an 11th consecutive match to underline their credentials as potential tournament winners.

The Azzurri’s relentless pressure continued as they pushed for a second, but Gareth Bale squandered a rare chance to earn Wales a draw when he volleyed over unmarked from 12 yards. Italy will face the runners-up of Group C next in London on June 26, while Wales will take on the runners-up of Group B on the same day in Amsterdam.

With Italy already through to the knockout stages, Mancini made eight changes to his team, a joint record number for the Azzurri between games at a major tournament. “It’s important that the identity of the team remains the same, as changing three or four players shouldn’t make any difference. They all know what to do and the end product doesn’t change. They all proved today that everyone here is a first-choice player,” the coach added. “Winning wasn’t even necessary, which made it difficult in terms of mentality, but we fought for the win anyway and that shows so much,” said Mancini.

Turkey shown the door

Xherdan Shaqiri scored two superb goals as Switzerland secured third place in Group A at Euro 2020 with a 3-1 win over Turkey, but they now face an anxious wait to see if they will reach the last 16. Turkey, who finished fourth with three defeats, were tipped pre-tournament as dark horses, but will head home after a dismal effort in the group stage.

The game encapsulated Turkey’s tournament, as they began full of fire and fury and started at a scintillating pace, only to collapse quickly as Switzerland outmanoeuvred them tactically to take an early lead.

The Swiss took the lead when Haris Seferovic received a pass from Steven Zuber on the edge of the area before rifling the ball into the bottom right corner in the sixth minute. Turkey regrouped and tried again, but they went 0-2 when Zuber found Shaqiri in a similar position, and he curled an exquisite shot beyond the despairing dive of Ugurcan Cakir 20 minutes later.

Turkey had their chances, but Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer made a string of superb first-half saves as they searched for their first goal of the tournament. Irfan Kahveci salvaged some pride for the Turks in the 62nd minute with a spectacular strike from distance to reduce the deficit, but their shortcomings were shown up again when Shaqiri fired home to complete a surging counter-attack.

Today's matches:

Ukraine vs Austria (9:30 pm IST)
Venue: National Arena

North Macedonia vs Netherlands (9:30 pm IST)
Venue: Amsterdam Arena

Russia vs Denmark (12:30 am IST, Tuesday)
Venue: Parken stadium

Finland vs Belgium (12:30 am IST, Tuesday)
Venue: Krestovsky Stadium


Follow us on: