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ROME, ITALY – JUNE 16: Manuel Locatelli of Italy celebrates after scoring their side’s second goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group A match between Italy and Switzerland at Olimpico Stadium on June 16, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Photo : Alberto Lingria – Pool/Getty Images)
Italy became the first team to book a place in the last 16 of the Euro 2020 tournament after beating Switzerland in a battle of European heavyweights.
Wales and Russia, on the other hand, bolstered their title bids, recording key victories against Turkey and Finland, respectively.
Action resumes this coming Thursday with Ukraine taking on North Macedonia, Denmark squaring off with Belgium, and the Netherlands facing off with Austria.
Italians march on to the next round
Italy’s quest for a second European Championship crown remains right on track after recording a comprehensive 3-0 win over Switzerland on Wednesday.
Manuel Locatelli scored twice for the Italians, who have opened the tournament with back-to-back 3-0 wins, showcasing their credentials as legitimate title contenders.
Locatelli opened the scoring in the 26th minute after a swift move by the Azzurri. Locatelli started the attack with a fine pass to Domenico Berardi, who then attracted the attention of the Swiss defense with his run down the right flank. He then delivered a pass to Locatelli, who fired the opener with ease.
He then doubled his tally shortly after the restart, drilling a low shot into the bottom corner from outside the area, past Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer who was firmly rooted to the spot. It was a fantastic moment for Locatelli, who scored twice in a match for club or country for the first time in his career.
Ciro Immobile capped a solid performance by Italy with a long-range goal in the 89th minute that all but sealed the Azzurri’s place in the last 16. Roberto Mancini’s men have been unstoppable of late, now going unbeaten in their previous 29 games.
Contributing to their success has been their excellent form on the defensive end. Italy’s backline has now gone ten games without surrendering a goal in all competitions, a run approaching 1,000 minutes. Combine that with their ruthlessness in front of a goal, and Italy is proving to be the team to beat in this competition. Before this tournament, Italy had never netted three goals in a game at the European Championship. However, they have now scored three goals in each of their first two games in this year’s competition.
Quite concerning for the Italians, though, was the injury to captain Giorgio Chiellini. He was substituted after pulling a flexor muscle in his left leg and is now a major doubt for Italy’s next game against Wales.
Italy only needs a point in that match to finish at the top of Group A, which would set up a round of 16 meeting against the runner-up in Group C at Wembley Stadium on June 26.
Related Article: Euro 2020 Day 5 Results: France, Portugal prevail in Group F openers
Wales, Russia record victories
Wales moved closer to securing a berth in the Round of 16 after beating Turkey, 2-0, in Baku on Wednesday. Gareth Bale starred for the Welshmen, creating a pair of assists for the Euro 2016 semifinalists. Aaron Ramsey scored the opening goal after Bale delivered a wonderful lofted pass over the Turkish defense. Connor Roberts then scored their second goal in the final seconds of injury time.
On the other hand, Russia recorded their first win of this year’s championships, beating Finland behind Aleksei Miranchuk’s goal in the first-half injury time to grab a share of the lead in Group B.
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