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Italy 3-0 Switerzland: Locatelli brace and Immobile strike seal Azzurri last 16 spot

Roberto Mancini’s impressive Azzurri side cruise to another 3-0 victory over Switzerland, with Manuel Locatelli netting two and Ciro Immobile on target.

Manuel Locatelli had never scored twice in a match during his professional career but picked the perfect time to do so to send Italy into the last 16.

The home team were having the bulk of possession and though they had taken the lead in the 19th minute when Lorenzo Insigne’s corner rebounded off Giorgio Chiellini and the veteran defender reacted quickest to smash the loose ball past Yann Sommer.

Yet Italy’s celebrations were cut short as the ball had struck Chiellini’s arm before falling invitingly for him, and VAR swiftly ruled the goal out.

Chiellini was frustrated, and his evening was ended five minutes later when the Juventus centre-back felt a muscle twang as he collected possession.

He was replaced by Francesco Acerbi and, given Chiellini turns 37 in August, it was natural to wonder whether this may have been his final appearance at a major tournament.

Locatelli volleyed a marvellous pass to Domenico Berardi on the right and immediately burst forward into the penalty area, meaning he was presented with a simple tap-in when Berardi cut the ball back.

Italy were hoping for an early second goal to settle their nerves and Locatelli obliged in impressive fashion.

The goalkeeper was unsighted by two defenders in his eyeline and was motionless as the ball sped towards him.

Immobile did finally take his chance in the 89th minute with an effort from 25 yards that crept in off the post, though Sommer really should have parried it with greater strength and kept it out.

This result was also welcomed by Wales, who need just a point in Rome on Sunday to be sure of second place in the group – and they could even finish top with a win.

Switzerland were struggling to release the pressure though in attack, the pace of Breel Embolo ensured Italy were always wary

That’s the proof in the pudding that Switzerland – despite finishing three goals down – had more ball in this game that their hosts.

They lodged five shots in that second half, six across the whole game – but managed only one on target.

That is a figure that is pretty ropey in international football, even against a side like Italy boasting a defensive record that’s almost terrifying to think about.

If there is a silver lining for Vladimir Petkovic, it is that a win over Turkey on Sunday would give them four points – likely enough to make the last-16 either way.

ajay
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