The Italian team won 2-0 this Sunday on their visit to Bulgaria, although without convincing and with little rhythm, and continued with the full points after two days in Group C of the qualifying phase for the Qatar 2022 World Cup .
A penalty goal scored by Andrea Belotti on the brink of halftime and the first goal as an absolute international signed by Manuel Locatelli with seven minutes remaining were enough to leave the Levski stadium in Sofia, in Bulgaria, where the ” azzurri “had never won in six precedents, with the highest result.
If Roberto Mancini’s team had won with a good game on his way to the next European Championship and the final phase of the UEFA Nations League, in which he will rival Spain in the semifinals, in the last two games there was no particular space for the show.
The “azzurri” chained their twenty-fourth consecutive game without losing and reached the essential goal, but they need to recover their shine ahead of next Wednesday’s visit to Lithuania and, above all, to the European Championship in June.
Following a 2-0 win against Northern Ireland in their start to the group stage, Italy visited the Levski Stadium in Sofia with six changes to their starting XI. Mancini gave confidence to Francesco Acerbi, Lazio defender, Stefano Sensi, Inter Milan midfielder, or Andrea Belotti, from Torino, who replaced Ciro Immobile.
The selected “azzurro” played with low rhythms and needed a generous maximum penalty for a foul on Belotti on the brink of halftime to unlock the game and break down the wall of the Bulgarian defense. The Torino striker took care of the transformation, crossed the shot and beat the Bulgarian goalkeeper to make it 1-0 on the scoreboard.
In both the first and second half protests and technical errors dominated over good play. Italy continued to lack of change of pace and Bulgaria gradually gained confidence until it scared the “azzurri” in some situations.
The Bulgarian national team protested a possible penalty for a one-handed touch by Stefano Sensi in the area and the same did Italy for a Valentin Antov foul on Belotti. In both cases, the referee, who could not count on the help of the VAR, decided not to award maximum penalties.
Mancini’s men had to wait until 83 before finally concluding the game and they did so with a good curved shot from Locatelli to Lorenzo Insigne’s pass.
The Sassuolo midfielder’s target relieved Italy, whose victory could have been more bulky if Ciro Immobile did not forgive, entered in the last minutes, two great opportunities.
If the game is still not spectacular, the good news for Italy came once again from the defense, who finished their fifth straight match without receiving a target.
Bulgaria: Iliev; Dimov, Antov, Bozhikov; Cicinho (Karagaren, m.46), Chochev, Kostadinov (Malinov, m.63), Vitanov (Raynov, m.86), Tsvetanov; Galabinov, Delev (Iliev, m.79).
Italy: Donnarumma; Florenzi (Di Lorenzo, m.68), Bonucci, Acerbi, Emerson; Barella, Sensi (Locatelli, m.68), Verratti (Pessina, m.88); Chiesa (Bernardeschi, m.76), Insigne, Belotti (Immobile, m.76).
Goals: 0-1, m.43: Belotti (penalty); 0-2, m.83: Locatelli.
Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia. He showed yellow cardboard to Kostadinov (m.58), Bozhikov (m.59), from Bulgaria, and Locatelli (m.84) and Bernardeschi (m.89), from Italy.
Incidents: Match corresponding to the second day of group C qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup played behind closed doors at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia (Bulgaria).