Turkey vs. Italy score: Lorenzo Insigne lights up Euro 2020 opener in convincing Azzurri win

Italy began their Euro 2020 campaign in impressive fashion as Turkey were put to the sword in a 3-0 win in Rome.

The sizeable margin of victory was no less than the Italians deserved, an own goal from Merih Demiral, a poacher's finish by Ciro Immobile and a curling effort by Lorenzo Insigne all scored in the second half of a game Roberto Mancini's side dominated from start to finish with their aggressive press and elegant possession play.

Turkey, billed as dark horses by some before the tournament, were unable to register any real threat at one end with just one shot in the first hour as they were all too easily carved apart by the likes of Insigne and Leonardo Spinazzola. The former went close twice in the first half and when the Italians started hitting the target it was merely a matter of how many they might score from the 24 attempts on goal they registered.

With nine games played without so much as a goal conceded and the attack clicking at the other end, Italy may yet prove to be serious contenders in the latter stages of this competition. Turkey will do well to get there as they prepare for games against Switzerland and Wales in Group A.

Euro 2020 starts slowly

Three years waiting for a tournament and after 45 minutes all you could think was "yeah, actually, I could leave it a little while longer actually." This was everything international football can be at its most turgid, one team doing nothing more than attempting to repel the attacks of the other. Meanwhile, the team looking to offer impetus to the game did not have the sort of understanding for slick passing moves that would break through the lines.

Instead it looked like the individual brilliance of one or two players might swing the game in Italy's favor. Insigne was free to dart infield from the left with Spinazzola so advanced from his left-back role that he was effectively operating as a winger. Insigne relished the chance to push forward and might have scored in the 18th minute when a give-and-go with Nicolo Barella found him precious space in the penalty area. He could not get the ball to bend quite enough to test Ugurcan Cakir. Later in the half, he bent the ball too much, putting it straight in the Turkey goalkeeper's arms.

Indeed, the only time in the first 45 minutes that Cakir was really tested by one of Italy's 14 shots came following a rare lapse from a Turkish center-back. Demiral misjudged a corner from the right. His Juventus team mate Giorgio Chiellini did not but his header was tipped over the bar.

Lack of ambition drains Turkey

While the Italians were racking up shots, it took until the 51st minute for Turkey to even have an attempt on Gianluigi Donnarumma's goal, Cengiz Under leading a one-man counter that at least forced Jorginho to block his low effort. Moments later they were behind, Umut Meras punished for his slip inside the box as Berardi's thumping cross along the six-yard line sent Demiral falling backwards as the ball deflected into the net. Even after that goal Turkey could not raise themselves.

Instead, it was Italy who upped the tempo. As soon as Gli Azzurri opened the scoring, the life seemed to drain out of Turkey as the hosts bounced their way back to the restart. The physical and mental toll of defending desperately for so long was apparent when Senol Gunes had replaced his entire midfield after 65 minutes, Okay Yokuslu looking as though he had run out of gas some time earlier. Considering he had spent half a season shielding the West Bromwich Albion defense, one has to wonder if Yokuslu's physical struggles were more down to preparation than his own fitness levels.

Ultimately, their gameplan of attempting to launch balls long to Buruk Yilmaz offered no respite for the drained Turkish defense. The veteran Lille striker had slim pickings from aerial duels with veterans Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci and on the rare occasions he found room down the Italian flanks he found little support to work with.

Certainly for a Turkey team that is the youngest at the tournament, this was a rude awakening. Their first quality spell of possession not coming until the third minute of added time when Yilmaz's low drive from close range was blocked in authoritative fashion by Chiellini. The attacking talent is there, but long balls will be no more effective a way to test the Swiss and Welsh than it was Italy.

The handball debate is not going anywhere

Welcome to another year where the handball rule remains utterly imperceptible, but vital to your ability to understand a football match. This summer's European Championships will be the first high profile competition on the continent to use lawmaker IFAB's new law changes, which see emphasis on the expected position of a player's arm when the ball hits it. Should that be unnatural, presumably hanging off his left earlobe, then a foul is given.

Naturally, it is already causing confusion. Zeki Celik's arm was a little further from his body than it might normally be when Leonardo Spinazzola's cross hit it but referee Danny Makkelie and the VAR that were assisting him did not need to take long to decide it was not a penalty.

Yet that was one of several occasions when the Italians seemed apoplectic over a decision they felt they were denied, because in Serie A such handballs are far more likely to be given. A player from the Premier League might not have thought twice about Celik's deflection however. Expect this to be the first of many times when differing interpretations of what could be a definitive law.

Notable performances

Leonardo Spinazolla:ย Perhaps the best player in Italy's lackluster white shirt, one moment he would be driving down the left on the overlap before cutting infield for the next attack. It was no wonder the Turkish defense did not know where to find him when he emerged in the box for the shot that was parried by Cakir into Immobile's path. RATING: 9

Ozan Tufan:ย One could lay the same criticism at Tufan's feet as any of the Turkish midfielders. He simply did not, or could not, build any spells of possession that might ease pressure on his side's goal and was far too often second to loose balls. RATING: 4

Lorenzo Insigne:ย If anyone's right foot deserves wand-like status it is Insigne's. When Italy were struggling to get going early on he was their spark, inventive and aggressive on an impressive night. RATING: 8

Up next

Saturday sees Wales take on Switzerland at 9 a.m. ET, Denmark vs. Finland at 12 p.m. ET and tournament favorites Belgium take on Russia at 3 p.m. ET. Italy will take on Switzerland and Turkey will meet Wales on Wednesday. You can stream every match via fuboTV (Try for free).

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Gloss to the scoreline that is no less than Italy and Insigne deserve. A gorgeous curling effort on that right foot and this game looks to be done and dusted.

June 11, 2021, 8:39 PM
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