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Italy made it three wins from their Euro 2020 three Group A matches without conceding a goal as they beat Wales 1-0 in Rome.
The Italians controlled the match from the start to finish on Sunday evening, giving the Welsh few options in either midfield or attack. Following their group stage performance so far, they are being considered serious candidates for this year's European Championships.
With his side already assured of a place in the last 16, Italy coach Roberto Mancini made eight changes to the team that beat Switzerland in their first game, and although his side lacked some of the fluency of their wins against Turkey and the Swiss, Italy still controlled the game.
Marco Verratti was running the midfield, where the Welsh were keeping things tight, but struggling to string any moves together.
Federico Chiesa flashed an effort across the face of the goal and although Danny Ward hadn't been forced into a difficult save, a goal looked to be coming. It arrived in the 39th minute when Matteo Pessina got a neat flick on Verratti's low free kick to send the ball in at the far post.
Another free kick early in the second half saw Italy again cause danger with Federico Bernardeschi rattling the woodwork, before Joe Allen almost found himself through on goal at the other end, before getting his feet in a tangle as he was caught in two minds.
The Welsh were down to 10 men in the 55th minute when Ethan Ampadu was shown a straight red card for a late challenge that saw him plant his studs on the top of Bernardeschi's foot.
Chiesa found space on the right in the 59th minute, but Ward did well to keep Andrea Belotti's effort out as Italy kept up the pace looking for a second goal.
Another corner from Verratti caused problems for the Wales defence, before Gareth Bale smacked a volley over the bar in his side's best chance of the game. The Wales' captain was subbed shortly afterwards to reserve him for the knockout phase as his side also progressed to the next phase.
Meanwhile Mancini showed his confidence by replacing goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 88th minute with Salvatore Sirigu.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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First Published: Mon, June 21 2021. 11:07 IST