Mateo Retegui was on the goalscoring sheet again as Italy recorded an important win over Malta on Sunday evening.
Roberto Mancini’s side were in dire need of three points after a disappointing defeat to England in their Euro 2024 qualification opener, and they got just that thanks to first half goals from Retegui and Matteo Pessina.
Amazingly inside the opening few minutes, Malta almost took an early lead through Alexander Satariano. The forward latched onto Joseph Mbong’s looping ball over the top of the Italian defence to fire a half-volleyed effort goalward from just inside the penalty area – an effort Gianluigi Donnarumma was on hand to tip over the crossbar.
That proved to be a bit of a wake-up call for Italy as the began to press forward with real intent thereafter.
In the 15th minute they got their reward through Mateo Retegui. The Argentine-born forward made it two from two for Italy, heading home a Sandro Tonali corner kick to make it 1-0.
Gli Azzurri made it 2-0 10 minutes later when Matteo Pessina tapped home a low Emerson cross from the left flank.
Italy were rather comfortable throughout the rest of the game, passing the ball about without really looking bothered to try and score a third for most of the second half.
Business began to pick up a bit again when Roberto Mancini made a number of changes up top, with one substitute Gianluca Scamacca almost scoring a stunning third. The West Ham striker attempted an audacious overhead kick from a set piece which so nearly came off, seeing the effort well saved by Henry Bonello in the Malta goal.
GK – Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Made a good save early on.
RB – Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 6/10 – Lively during the first half, linked u well with his Napoli teammate Politano.
CB – Giorgio Scalvini – 6/10 – The youngster was caught with a ball over the top early on, but recovered well.
CB – Alessio Romagnoli – 6/10 – Defended admirably when he needed to.
LB – Emerson – 7/10 – Bagged an assist for Italy’s second goal and was generally quite good.
CM – Matteo Pessina – 7/10 – Scored his sixth goal in 17 starts for his nation. Quite an impressive record for a midfielder.
CM – Bryan Cristante – 5/10 – Tidy on the ball.
CM – Sandro Tonali – 6/10 – His set piece delivery led to the opening goal. Moved the ball around well in the middle of the park.
RW – Matteo Politano – 8/10 – Caused Malta a whole host of problems on the right flank. The Napoli wide midfielder was Italy’s best player for most of the game.
ST – Mateo Retegui – 8/10 – Another cap, another goal. Italy may have finally found a striker they can rely on.
LW – Wilfried Gnonto – N/A – Subbed with an injury early in the first half.
SUB – Vincenzo Grifo – 4/10 – He didn’t do a massive amount after coming on for Gnonto.
SUB – Matteo Darmian – 5/10 – Solid as ever.
SUB – Marco Verratti – 5/10.
SUB – Gianluca Scamacca – 6/10 – Hold-up play was good when he came on and he almost scored a stunning goal.
SUB – Rafael Toloi – N/A.