Italy have defeated Turkey 3-0 in the opening match of the delayed Euro 2020 football tournament, the world’s biggest sporting event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament has started with an own goal from Turkey defender Demiral. Berardi found space down the right and he entered into the Turkish box. Berardi then shot low and hard into the centre. The ball ricocheted off Demiral’s chest at pace, and flew into the bottom right of the Turkish goal. Brilliant!

Playing before a small crowd at Stadio Olimpico that was filled to a quarter of its capacity, Italy were a marvel to watch, dominating the proceedings the whole of the first half with classic passes. However, they failed to hit the back of the Turkish net as Turkey played defensive game throughout first half. All goals came in the second half.

Three times, Italy were denied what they thought were clear penalties and it was 0-0 as the referee blew a whistle to allow the team to go for recess.

The Azzurri made a deserved breakthrough eight minutes into the second half when Domenico Berardi hit the byline and Merih Demiral turned into his own net.

Ciro Immobile ended defensive Turkey’s unlikely chances of equalising on the 66th minute, while Lorenzo Insigne added a late third.

Insigne missed a similar opportunity in the first half, but made no mistake this time. Turkey keeper Cakir made a poor clearance and was intercepted by Berardi. Then the ball went to Insigne on the left, after some good passes among the Italy forwards. Insigne opened his body and curled it perfectly into the top right. What a finish!

“It was important to start well and it’s satisfying for us, for the crowd and for all Italians,” Italy Coach Roberto Mancini said.

“It was a wonderful evening and I hope there will be many more.”

Italy has subbed liberally and now just wants to get out with its ankles intact. Two quick yellows for Turkey prove that last bit won’t be easy.

Turkey has some very real goal-difference worries now as it prepares for its next two group games, against Wales and Switzerland. The two group winners and the best four third-place teams will advance to the knockouts, but they’ve dug a big hole for themselves yesterday.

The tournament started a year later than planned due to the pandemic but the Italian fans in Rome’s Olympic Stadium, open to 25 percent of capacity, were given something to cheer. Fans needed to have proof of vaccination, a negative test or have already had COVID-19.

The Italian capital is one of 11 cities that will host football matches during the month-long event.

“After all that’s happened, now that the situation is getting better, I think the time has come to start providing fans with something to be satisfied about,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini told reporters before the match.

More than one million Europeans have died in the pandemic, including almost 127,000 Italians. Some 3.7 million people have lost their lives worldwide.

The tournament was postponed in March 2020 when countries were scrambling to contain virus outbreaks and major sporting events around the world were cancelled or put on hold.

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