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EURO 2020 finally kicked off a year late, but Italy ensured it was well worth the wait.
Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri served up a treat in contrast to the usual dull opening games to show they will take some stopping.
The superstitious Mancini likes a good omen and made Manchester City late for the 2011 FA Cup by insisting their coach driver follow the same route to Wembley they took for the semi-final, regardless of the traffic, because he felt it was lucky.
Good fortune smiled on him when he needed it last night as Italy broke Turkey’s stubborn resistance thanks to an own goal before going on to win easily.
Italy were impressive in their easy win against Turkey
But it would be wrong to suggest Italy won because they were lucky and they dominated to stretch their unbeaten run to 28 games and make it nine straight wins without conceding.
Italy are reborn under Mancini following the humiliation of their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the former City boss has blended youth and experience together to create a side with a great team spirit.
They will face stiffer tests than a Turkey side, which showed little ambition, and their finishing was off in the first half.
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But they have all the ingredients to go deep into this tournament as they attempt to win the European Championships for the first time since triumphing here in the Olympic Stadium in 1968.
Despite the coronavirus restrictions, UEFA managed to put on a spectacular opening ceremony, boasting fireworks, acrobats and giant footballs in each competing nation’s colours.
Roberto Mancini's side already look like strong contenders to win the tournament
(Image: Alberto Lingria/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Andrea Bocelli sang Nessun dorma to stir memories of Italia 90 and cause many to reflect on those lost during the pandemic.
Mancini and his staff looked like something off a catwalk in their pale designer jackets, dark trousers and unbelievably-shinny shoes.
His team, wearing their white strip because they were technically the away side, were just as smart and they dominated possession.
It was attack against defence and Turkey’s defending was better than Italy’s attacking initially.
Lorenzo Insigne curled a shot past the far post before Ciro Immobile headed wide in between a Giorgio Chiellini header, which was brilliantly touched over by Ugurcan Cakir.
Italy also put on an impressive show before kick-off in the opening ceremony
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Off came Mancini’s designer jacket and he knew for all of their style, they needed more substance.
They made the breakthrough on 53 minutes when Domenicio Berardi beat Umut Meras on the left and his cross went in off Juventus’ Merih Demiral.
Italy pushed for a second and it came on 65 minutes when Cakir parried the excellent Leonardo Spinazzola’s shot and Immobile scored from the rebound.
Turkey disintegrated and when Cakir gave away possession 11 minutes from time, Italy pounced to score a third through Insigne.