Jose Mourinho has been accused of lacking respect by Roma's rivals Lazio after he claimed their winning goal against Spezia should not have stood.

Roma and Lazio are locked in a battle to secure a top-six finish in Serie A, and Maurizio Sarri's team sit level on points with the Giallorossi after earning a last-gasp 4-3 win over Spezia on Saturday, while Mourinho's men dropped points in a goalless draw with Bologna a day later.

Having spent much of their match trailing, Lazio snatched a thrilling win when Francesco Acerbi flicked home in the final minute.

After Ciro Immobile became just the 10th player to reach 150 Serie A goals for one club earlier in the match, Acerbi's winner was controversial as it appeared he turned home from an offside position, leading Mourinho to take aim at the decision to let the goal stand.

Subsequently, Lazio have hit back.

"The fact that in 2022 a coach of another team repeatedly refers to presumed referee favours to competing teams demonstrates some things," the statement began.

"That Lazio is obsessively in their thoughts more than other coveted professional goals; that, as often happens, one looks into other people's homes to divert attention from missed results and sensational episodes that have occurred in one's own home, in one's favour, under the eyes of all.

"Despite the need to evolve the image of football in Italy, some players are stuck with the constant repetition of accusations against the referees and the VAR, [and] these offensive attitudes towards referees are too often overlooked.

"The Lazio Sports Society rejects the criticisms and insinuations. It continues to believe that values are demonstrated on the pitch and not in the television salons. Lazio will never lend itself to being anyone's alibi or scapegoat and will assert its reasons in the appropriate forums." 

In accusing Mourinho of lacking respect for referees and other clubs, Lazio also claimed not to have commented on several refereeing decisions which they perceived to have gone against them in recent weeks.

These incidents included a potential foul on Acerbi in the build-up to Sandro Tonali's late winner for Milan at the Stadio Olimpico, and an alleged elbow by Roger Ibanez when Lazio met Roma in March.

"The company's line continues to be that of not discussing the decisions taken on the pitch, even when it comes to obvious episodes that occurred to the detriment of the Biancoceleste team, such as [Sandro] Tonali's foul on Acerbi in Lazio-Milan on the occasion of the goal, or the elbow from [Roger] Ibanez on [Sergej] Milinkovic-Savic in the [Rome] derby," the statement continued.

"[These are] decisive episodes on which we have chosen silence, out of respect for the referees on the field and the VAR, respect that others have not shown and continue not to demonstrate."

The capital clubs are separated by virtue of their head-to-head record with three games left, with Roma boasting the advantage after winning 3-0 in March.

Milan moved back to the top of Serie A as Sandro Tonali's stoppage-time goal sealed a deserved 2-1 victory over Lazio on Sunday.

Stefano Pioli's side had been usurped at the summit by local rivals Inter after their 3-1 win over Roma on Saturday, but victory at the Stadio Olimpico means the Rossoneri regained their two-point lead at the top.

Ciro Immobile had given Lazio an early lead with his 25th league goal of the season, but Olivier Giroud pulled the visitors level shortly after the interval.

Tonali then poked home two minutes into stoppage time to seal a dramatic three points and spark jubilant scenes among the travelling supporters. 

Roberto Mancini has revealed the decision to release several senior Italy faces such as Jorginho is to help repay the efforts made between club and country.

The Chelsea midfielder, along with a clutch of other key players such as Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne, have left the Azzurri camp ahead of Tuesday's clash with Turkey.

Defeat against North Macedonia last week left the Euro 2020 hopes' of reaching Qatar 2022 in tatters, ensuring they will miss a second successive World Cup.

With that in mind, Mancini looks set to field a more experimental side for a dead rubber against Turkey, who were also eliminated from the play-offs.

Speaking ahead of the match at Torku Arena, Mancini explained that it was on his orders that Jorginho and others departed early, stating that it was intended as a favour to their respective clubs.

"I forced them to leave," the manager sought to clarify in his pre-match press conference. "If I can do something for them and for the clubs, we do it.

"They would not have played. Some were not physically at their best. Some of them, I forced them to go.

"Chelsea sent us Jorginho three days earlier [and] did not let him play in the FA Cup. I sent [him] back home because [he] would not have played."

Jorginho has endured a tough few months in the Azzurri fold, with his crucial missed penalties against Switzerland in the group stage qualifiers effectively costing his side a straight passage to Qatar.

While Mancini added that neither Napoli forward Insigne or Lazio striker Immobile would have featured against Turkey, but still paid tribute to their contributions.

"Lorenzo had physical problems [and] Immobile would have gone to the stands," he stated.

"The boys in recent years have deserved a lot. There are special players here, a special group has been created."

Marco Verratti and Jorginho were among a group of six players to leave the Italy camp after their failure to qualify for the World Cup. 

Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Mancini also returned to their clubs ahead of schedule, with the latter two having sustained knocks. 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini is expected to ring the changes in a friendly against Turkey on Tuesday following the Azzurri's shock defeat to North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on Thursday. 

The Euro 2020 champions' first ever home loss in World Cup qualifying meant they failed to reach successive finals for the first time in their history. 

Instead of taking on Portugal in the play-off final, Italy will depart for Konya on Monday. 

Is Maurizio Sarri getting the most out of Lazio? To help answer that, we arguably have to look to his coaching predecessor - Simone Inzaghi.

After five seasons of trying under Inzaghi's stewardship, the Biancocelesti finally qualified for the Champions League. There were seasons where they came agonisingly close too - particularly in 2017-18, where Inter beat them at the Stadio Olimpico on the final day of the Serie A season, to claim fourth place and the final spot in Europe's premier competition.

When they finally did qualify, last season’s 6-2 defeat on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the last-16 – and Inzaghi’s ensuing departure for Inter – was microcosmic of an overall sense the 45-year-old extracted the maximum out of the players he had at his disposal, within his system.

With Sunday's Rome derby in mind, despite the fact Lazio are currently fifth and again perceivably in the running for that last Champions League place, that's the arguable framework for how we must interpret Sarri's first season in the Italian capital.

It's not only pertinent to ask whether the 63-year-old is extracting the maximum out of this Lazio squad within his own system. Ultimately, are the players Sarri has at his disposal even compatible to that system?

One of the stronger case studies in this discussion is Luis Alberto. The Spaniard is arguably not only one of Serie A's most transformative midfielders, but in European football.

Since joining Lazio in 2016, within the framework of Inzaghi’s 3-5-2, the 29-year-old blossomed into an elite ball progressor and shot creator from a statistical standpoint. He holds five of the 10 highest ratings for passes into the penalty area per 90 minutes in Lazio's history - since Stats Perform's first recordings of the data in 2005-06.

 

Just as important as Luis Alberto's ability to create with the ball is his ability to act as a positional reference point, in order to create for others without it. His ability to drive and distribute is underpinned by an intelligent and assertive positional sense, which also compliments the likes of Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - and the latter’s particular penchant for late entry into the penalty area.

Yet along with cramping him of the half-space to move into when Lazio are in possession, Sarri's 4-3-3 setup asks more of the Spaniard defensively - exacerbating his notoriously suspect ground coverage. The more energetic Toma Basic's August transfer from Bordeaux and initial scope under the new coach, in Luis Alberto's place, was conspicuous in this respect.

This all matters because under Sarri, only Napoli have kept the ball more than them in Serie A this season. Lazio rank 12th in Europe's top-five leagues combined for touches per 90, but 60th for shots in the penalty area per 90. It would take a sizeable increase in shot quality upon previous years to make that disparity more sustainable, weighing up qualitative and quantitative aspects. That increase hasn't eventuated.

Lazio's ability to function in possession ultimately relies on Luis Alberto's skillset, and one statistic stands out - even this season, the team has averaged 9.27 shots in open play per 90 minutes with him on the pitch, and 5.97 without. In addition, his impact on Immobile is profound.

 

 

Immobile's xG per open play shot (0.14 on/0.2 off) actually increases when Luis Alberto is off the pitch, but his quantity of open-play shots also goes down (3.15 on/2.27 off). Meanwhile, playing in Sarri's 4-3-3 requires more from him as a collaborative player with his back to goal, a relatively weak area of his play that contributed to respective struggles at Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund and the Italian national team.

In Inzaghi's 3-5-2, Immobile wasn't cramped for space and could still receive the ball between the lines, but in positions where he's able to face goal and go at defenders with momentum. This season, the 32-year-old striker has completed (0.6) and attempted (1.38) fewer dribbles than in any of his six seasons at Lazio.

On top of that, despite this season being his second highest so far for touches per 90 (42.67), Immobile is also creating less chances in open play per 90 (0.78) than in any of his six seasons at the Olimpico. Six penalties for the season brings his higher xG but lower xA per 90 into context, exposing a question of net gain.

 

 

This all provides the backdrop for Lazio's sizeable xG overperformance this season. It is ultimately propelling their contention for a Champions League place and obscuring just how volatile they have been defensively – exposing Francesco Acerbi's ability to play in a four-man defence as opposed to a three-man defence.

So far this season in Serie A, Lazio have scored the second-highest amount of goals with 58 and rank eighth for xG with 42.1, but aside from Hellas Verona (14.3), are a distant first (15.9) in differential between the two statistical categories.

With this all in context, the reality that Sarri will remain faithful to this 4-3-3 will arguably be to the detriment of Lazio's most important players under Inzaghi. Whether they stay or go, as long as Sarri stays, will determine how dramatic the eventual regression to the mean will be.

Ciro Immobile has surpassed Silvio Piola as Lazio’s all-time top scorer in Serie A after netting a 144th league goal for the club.

Piola set the record in a nine-year stretch between 1934-1943, scoring 143 goals in 227 appearances.

After spending time with Juventus, Genoa, Torino, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, Immobile found a long-term home at Lazio in 2016.

Immobile scored his record-setting 144th goal in his 201st appearance, converting a match-winning penalty in Lazio's 1-0 win over Venezia to move up to fifth on the Serie A table.

The side against whom he has scored the most Serie A goals against for Lazio are Sampdoria, having netted 12 times in just 10 league meetings with I Blucerchiati.

Seventy-seven of his goals have come in the Stadio Olimpico, while he has netted eight times in both Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi and Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Immobile has struck 21 goals in his first 24 games this season in Serie A, already surpassing his league tally for the 2020-21 campaign (20).

He still has a fair way to go to improve on his personal-best seasonal haul, however. He scored 36 in 37 games in 2019-20.

Alessandro Bastoni scored one goal and set another up for Milan Skriniar as Inter returned to the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over Lazio.

Bastoni found the back of the net for the first time since June 2020 to put the Nerazzurri in front at San Siro on Sunday, but Ciro Immobile equalised in the first half with his 18th goal of the season.

Inter were not to be denied an eighth consecutive Serie A win, with Bastoni setting up fellow defender Skriniar for the winner midway through the second half.

Victory for Simone Inzaghi's side against his former club in their first game after the winter break moved them a point above Milan at the summit.

Lautaro Martinez looked to have given Inter a deserved 16th-minute lead when he raced onto a defence-splitting pass from Alexis Sanchez and fired beyond Thomas Strakosha, but the VAR ruled he was marginally offside.

Strakosha produced a great reflex save to keep out Martinez's rasping volley, but the champions were in front on the half-hour mark when Bastoni bent a brilliant left-foot strike into the bottom-left corner of the net from 25 yards out.

Lazio had not posed much of a threat until the lethal Immobile capitalised on a mix-up between Stefan de Vrij and Skriniar to nip in and level 10 minutes before half-time with a poacher's finish.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic spurned a good chance to put Lazio in front when he timed his run into the box to perfection, but failed to make a clean contact on Felipe Anderson's pinpoint cross.

Luiz Felipe's crucial block prevented Ivan Perisic from finding the back of the net after Strakosha denied Denzel Dumfries, but the Nerazzurri were back in front midway through the second half.

Bastoni turned provider for Skriniar, whipping in a cross that the centre-back met with a towering header that went in off the crossbar.

There was drama when referee Luca Pairetto showed Stefan Radu a red card before realising that the defender was only guilty of one bookable offence, correcting his mistake by also cautioning Mattia Zaccagni.

Ciro Immobile became the all-time leading goalscorer in Lazio's history after finding the net in their 2-2 draw with Marseille on Thursday. 

Italy international Immobile overtook Silvio Piola by netting his 160th goal in all competitions for the club in the second half of the Europa League clash at the Stade Velodrome. 

The striker pounced on an error from William Saliba and curled a fine finish beyond Pau Lopez in the 49th minute, though Dimitri Payet's late intervention ensured it was not the winner. 

Immobile joined Lazio in 2016 and reached the milestone in his 233rd appearance for the club, with the majority of his goals being scored with his right foot (125). 

More than a quarter (44) have come from the penalty spot, while he has only found the back of the net from outside the box eight times.

Immobile's favourite opponent in a Lazio shirt has been Sampdoria, against whom he has scored 10 times in nine games. He has also hit nine against Cagliari, Genoa and SPAL, with his tally against the latter coming from just six games. 

Lazio scored twice late on as they came from behind to beat Inter 3-1 and end Simone Inzaghi's unbeaten start in Serie A with his new club.

Ivan Perisic opened the scoring from the spot after just 12 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico, before Lazio's Ciro Immobile equalised with a penalty of his own after the break.

Controversy followed as Felipe Anderson tapped in on the rebound from Immobile's strike with nine minutes remaining, with Inter's Federico Dimarco seemingly down on the ground and injured in the build-up to the goal.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic added a third with a late header as Inter's unbeaten start to their title defence, under the guidance of former Lazio boss Inzaghi, abruptly ended. The result leaves them four points behind leaders Napoli, who host Torino on Sunday.

Lazio's Luiz Felipe was red-carded after the full-time whistle for an altercation with former team-mate Joaquin Correa as tempers flared after the conclusion of the game.

Roberto Mancini has overseen arguably one of the all-time great transformations in international football, not only turning Italy into a team that has a clear and fresh identity, but also a side that is successful.

When they lost 1-0 to Portugal on September 10, 2018 in the Nations League, who'd have thought that by the next time they suffered defeat they'd have won the European Championship? The fact that's the case despite Euro 2020 being delayed for 12 months is all the more impressive.

While the Azzurri required a penalty shoot-out against England in Sunday's final at Wembley, it's fair to say Italy were worthy victors in the end, with their hosts' caution only taking them so far.

In fact, England's pragmatism was arguably akin to the philosophy historically associated with Italy, but under Mancini they've truly embraced a tactical fluidity that has seemingly altered the perception many have of them.

Press smart, work smart

Intense off-the-ball work and a high press have almost become mainstream in modern football. While they aren't necessarily prevalent aspects of every team, not even every great team, many of the world's finest coaches try to implement them to a certain degree.

At Euro 2020, it's been a core strength of Italy – but it's not just a case of chasing down opponents like headless chickens. They've proven themselves to be smart.

 

The average amount of passes Italy allow their opponents to have in their own defensive third before initiating a defensive action is 13 (PPDA). Seven teams at the tournament pressed with greater intensity, but none were as effective as Italy.

Their 56 high turnovers were matched by Denmark but Italy boasted a tournament-high 13 that led to a shot, while three resulted in a goal – that too was bettered by no other team.

It suggests that, while other sides such as Spain (8.1 PPDA) pressed higher, Italy were better at picking their moments and knowing when to up the intensity.

Italy still managed to remain well balanced, too. Their average starting position of 42.9 metres from their own goal was deeper than six other teams, an important factor considering Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci aren't the quickest.

Yet they still pressed to greater effect that any of the others.

Establishing control

If there was one area of the pitch that you might point out as most crucial in Italy's Euro 2020 success (if we ignore Gianluigi Donnarumma's shoot-out saves), it would be their midfield.

Nicolo Barella, Marco Verratti and Jorginho were largely excellent as a trio, though the latter pair have attracted most of the acclaim.

In Verratti, Mancini seems to have a player who truly embodies their style of play – an excellent creator, he also does more than his fair share off the ball as one of the most complete central midfielders in the game today. He puts the fun in functional.

Verratti played the most key passes (14) of anyone at the tournament and ranked fourth for successful passes (87.1) and fifth for tackle attempts (4.0) per 90 minutes (at least 90 mins played).

 

The Paris Saint-Germain star also provided drive from the centre, with his 23 ball carries per 90 minutes bettered by just five midfielders, though only Pedri moved the ball between five and 10 metres upfield more often than Verratti (47), highlighting his progressive mentality.

Yet he didn't do it all on his own – after all, Verratti missed the first two games through injury. No, Jorginho had a similarly important function as the chief deep-lying playmaker, playing 484 successful passes, trailing only Aymeric Laporte.

On top of that, Jorginho showed his innate ability to sniff out danger and get Italy back on the move, with his 48 recoveries the second-highest among outfield players.

Given the presence of these two, it's no wonder Italy strung together the third-most sequences of 10 of more passes (123), yet at no point did you feel they got in each other's way, which again is testament to Mancini's setup.

 

Turning a weakness into a strength

The fact Italy were successful despite not having a particularly convincing striker highlighted the effectiveness of other areas of the team.

Ciro Immobile was Mancini's pick to lead the line. He wasn't necessarily bad, as his goal involvement output of four (two goals, two assists) was only trumped by Patrik Schick and Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, the Lazio man was by no means deadly in front of goal, hitting the target with just three of 18 shots. Among players with at least 10 attempts, just four were accurate with a smaller percentage than Immobile (16.7 per cent).

 

But so fluid were Italy that it didn't really matter. Immobile was one of five Italy players to net two goals, something no team has achieved at the Euros since France did in 2000.

At Italy's Coverciano coach training facility, there is said to have been a growing focus on the development of what are essentially formation-less tactics, and the fact Italy carried a threat from so many different positions suggests such a future actually isn't that far away.

Further to this, Italy showed real flexibility in attack. Sure, they scored 10 times inside the box, a figure third only to Spain and England, but the difference is the Azzurri also netted three from outside the area – no team managed more.

While you might expect that to reflect significantly in their expected goals (xG), Italy still pretty much scored exactly the number of goals one would ordinarily expect from the quality of their chances (13 goals, 13.2 xG), albeit one of those was an own goal.

 

Whether Italy have enough talent coming through to sustain this level and establish the first international 'dynasty' since the Spain side that won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 is another debate.

But there's little doubt Mancini has the know-how to make them the team to beat if the production line doesn't dry up.

Lorenzo Insigne dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Serie A rivals Lazio amid doubts over his Napoli future.

Insigne is entering the final year of his contract and the captain is yet to re-sign with boyhood club Napoli, where he emerged from the youth team in 2010.

The Italy star has been linked with LaLiga duo Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while Liverpool and Milan have previously emerged as possible destinations.

Insigne was asked about his future, with reports claiming Italy team-mate Ciro Immobile is trying to lure the 30-year-old to Lazio.

"This rumour came out that Immobile is acting as sporting director to bring me to Lazio, but it's not true," Insigne said as Italy prepare for Saturday's Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Austria.

"He didn't tell me anything about it. We're friends, we're going on vacation together, but we haven't talked about that."

Insigne added: "I am only thinking of playing the European Championship, afterwards there is time to talk to the club.

"As for my career, I have no regrets. What I always dreamed of was playing for Napoli and wearing the armband. My two dreams have come true and therefore I am not happy, but overjoyed."

Roberto Mancini said that Domenico Berardi and Manuel Locatelli did "what I'm always asking them to do" in combining for Italy's first goal in a 3-0 win over Switzerland.

The result, which came courtesy of a Locatelli brace and a third goal added by Ciro Immobile, confirmed Italy's place in the knockout stage of Euro 2020 after just two games played.

Mancini's men dominated the contest at Stadio Olimpico and were rewarded with a second consecutive 3-0 victory, having beaten Turkey by the same scoreline in their opening Group A match.

Mancini hailed his side's performance, telling reporters: "Switzerland are a strong side. We knew it would be a tough game and it was.

"We created several chances and we deserved the victory. We were struggling in the opening minutes, but then we pressed them high and forced them to make mistakes.

"The lads did really well. It wasn't easy; it was their second game in five days and it's so hot."

He picked out his side's opening goal for special praise, having seen Locatelli start the move in midfield before latching onto Berardi's cross to score from close range.

"This is exactly what the lads have to do, what I'm always asking them to do," said Mancini.

"Always believe that it can be the right chance, as Locatelli did by following the action after his pass to Berardi in midfield."

Mancini's opposite number Vladimir Petkovic faces an uphill struggle to progress from Group A, having taken one point from their games against Wales and Italy.

Switzerland face Turkey in Baku in their final group game, and Petkovic said they must remain committed to their task.

"Many things didn't work for us tonight, and plenty worked for Italy. The truth lies in the middle," he said. 

"Congratulations to Italy – they play great football, and have for some time.

"Everyone deserves to be disappointed tonight, but tomorrow from the first training session we move on. I spoke to the team and told them there's a match left, and three points could get us to the next round."

Italy became the first team to reach the Euro 2020 knockout stage after Manuel Locatelli scored twice in a 3-0 victory over Switzerland in Group A.

Locatelli scored in-form Italy's 29th goal without reply to put them ahead at Stadio Olimpico, where Switzerland failed to land a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

The Sassuolo midfielder struck again early in the second half and Ciro Immobile added a third to ensure the scoreline reflected their dominance on a night when Roberto Mancini's men showed their 3-0 opening-game win over Turkey was no flash in the pan.

Switzerland must beat Turkey in their final group game to retain hope of finishing in the top two in Group A, while Italy can rest players when they face Wales.

Giorgio Chiellini had the ball in the net after 18 minutes but his close-range strike was ruled out for handball in the build-up following a VAR review, before the veteran defender left the field with a hamstring injury.

Italy deservedly took the lead after 25 minutes when Jorginho set Domenico Berardi free down the right and he crossed for Locatelli to score with a low finish from six yards.

The second half was just six minutes old when Locatelli struck again, collecting Nicola Barella's pass on the edge of the Switzerland penalty area before unleashing a left-footed drive into the net.

Gianluigi Donnarumma made a strong low save to prevent Steven Zuber from scoring with an angled close-range drive in what proved to be the nearest Switzerland would come to finding the net.

With one minute left on the clock, Immobile scored from just outside the box with a powerful right-footed shot, becoming the first player to score in Italy's opening two games at a major tournament since Christian Vieri at the 2002 World Cup.

What does it mean? Italy impenetrable, even without Chiellini

Italy have gone 965 minutes without conceding a goal, and they are building a formidable finals campaign on the firmest of foundations at Euro 2020.

Francesco Acerbi represented a seamless replacement for Chiellini, who can now be given a breather ahead of the knockout stage as he recovers from injury.

Locatelli at the double

Italy proved they are a team with goals throughout as Locatelli became their third player to score a brace at the Euros after Mario Balotelli against Germany in 2012 and Pierluigi Casiraghi against Russia in 1996.

Locatelli is the first player to score from outside the box for Italy at the Euros since Andrea Pirlo did so against Croatia in 2012.

Seferovic's struggle continues

Haris Seferovic has now made six appearances in European Championships but has yet to score, and failed to add to his 13 tournament shots before he was replaced by Mario Gavranovic at the start of the second half.

What's next?

Italy are back in the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday as they face Wales, while Switzerland travel to Baku to take on Turkey in their final Group A match.

Roberto Mancini basked in the emotion of a "beautiful evening" as Italy began Euro 2020 with a commanding 3-0 win over Turkey, but he is not getting carried away after one match.

Against a sorry Turkey side, Italy were a cut above on Friday in Rome's Stadio Olimpico, where the Azzurri are unbeaten in nine matches at major tournaments.

A frustratingly unambitious Turkey were finally breached early in the second half when Domenico Berardi smashed a cross in off Merih Demiral and, as their opponents' cumulative expected goals (xG) value of 0.6 suggests, Italy need not have scored again.

But they did for good measure, Ciro Immobile pouncing on a rebound to net for the third successive game for his country, before then teeing up the excellent Lorenzo Insigne for a lovely finish.

It was the first time in European Championship history that Italy have scored three times in a single match, with the win and overall manner of it seeing Mancini's men make a real statement about their chances over the next month.

It had been difficult to truly gauge their seemingly impressive qualifying campaign because most of their goals came against massively inferior opposition. This victory was rather more conclusive, though Mancini was not getting carried away at full-time.

Asked whether this was just the first step towards the final at Wembley on July 11, Mancini told Rai Sport: "There are still six more steps. It was a beautiful evening, I hope there are many others like this.

"I was hoping for a start like this, we are pleased to have played well and entertained the fans. I hope the Italians had a good evening. We played well, we never gave up. In short it was an excellent match.

"We are aware that we are a good team. We beat Turkey, who are definitely not pushovers. We know we can still improve, even with young players who don't yet have European Championship experience."

The first half was frustrating for Italy, their 14 shots – compared to Turkey's zero – yielding little, while their opponents sat back and hoped to absorb pressure.

Italy would have expected such an approach from Turkey to a degree, given they relied on counter-attacks 26 per cent more than the average in qualifying, according to Stats Perform's Playing Styles model.

But ultimately Italy got the job done and Mancini applauded his men for not becoming disheartened, instead persisting as they looked to pull Turkey to and fro with quick distribution.

"We had a good match, even in the first half when we couldn't find the goal, we were very good," Mancini continued. "The match was not easy, it was the debut and Turkey is an excellent team.

"We were decisive when we moved the ball quickly and came to the opposite side, freeing the man.

"It was important to start well, it was a satisfaction for all of us, for the present public and for all Italians."

Ciro Immobile thanked his mother for giving him his sense of goal after helping Italy to launch their Euro 2020 campaign with a resounding 3-0 win over Turkey in Rome.

A dogged, if unambitious, approach from Senol Gunes' side ensured it was 0-0 at the interval at the Stadio Olimpico, but the breakthrough came eight minutes into the second half when Merih Demiral turned Domenico Berardi's powerful cross into his own net.

Lazio striker Immobile was then on hand to convert the rebound from Leonardo Spinazzola's shot – his third consecutive scoring appearance for the Azzurri but a first goal in the finals of a major tournament.

"I want to thank my mother for giving me the sense for being in the right place in the right moment," the 31-year-old said, as quoted by UEFA.com.

Roberto Mancini's side had 63.4 per cent possession and the eventual shot count came in at 24-3, with Immobile's six attempts meaning he had double the amount the entire Turkey team managed over the course of the 90 minutes.

Immobile felt being under pressure for such long periods took a toll on Italy's opponents.

"We showed patience in the first half. Turkey are a strong side and caused problems for many top teams," he said.

"We tried to tire them out, moving the ball left and right and trying to spread them. Unfortunately, we regularly struggled to break their wall.

"Turkey were more tired after the break. After the goal they had to open up some space, so that’s when our quality emerged."

Lorenzo Insigne completed the scoring with a crisp finish – teed up by Immobile – and produced many of those moments of quality.

The Napoli forward had five shots, with two on target and two blocked, and created three chances for team-mates. Only fellow wide attacker Domenico Berardi (five) made more key passes.

"We made a slow start but we managed to recover and score three goals in the second half," Insigne said.

"Mancini told us to remain calm and focused on the game – that’s what we did and, finally, we achieved our goal.

"Our strength is the group; the coach has created a great group in which there are no starters and bench players and each one of us is always ready to sacrifice for our team-mates.

"Winning is the most important thing – if I score, even better. It was a great night."

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