Italy Secure Euro 2020 Qualification, Top Spot in Group J with Win vs. Greece

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2019

Italy's midfielder Jorginho (C) is congratulated by Italy's defender Leonardo Bonucci (L) and Italy's midfielder Marco Verratti (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group J qualifier football match between Italy and Greece at the Stadio Olimpico stadium in Rome, on October 12, 2019. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/Getty Images

Italy secured qualification to UEFA Euro 2020 and top spot in Group J on Saturday by beating a spirited Greece side 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.  

Jorginho broke the deadlock for the hosts in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot after they failed to register a shot on target in the first half.

Federico Bernardeschi added a second from outside the area 15 minutes later to secure the win.

Italy are nine points clear at the top of Group J, having won every game and beaten nearest competitors Finland twice. 

The defeat leaves Greece with just one win in qualification, and that was in their first game of the group against Liechtenstein. With three matches remaining, they are seven points off a qualification place.

Italy failed to test goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis in the first half as they struggled to break down the visitors, despite enjoying the lion's share of possession.

No one managed to get on the end of a promising cross from Federico Chiesa, while Lorenzo Insigne blasted a wild shot over when he had the chance to shoot from the edge of the area.

Football Italia's Richard Hall noted their struggles against a resolute Greek defence:

The best chance of the half fell to the visitors when Dimitris Limnios forced a save from Gianluigi Donnarumma after a good team move.

Italian football writer Matthew Santangelo wanted to see more from the hosts at half-time:

Italy upped their attacking intensity in the second half, and Paschalakis had to be alert to tip a Ciro Immobile header around the post.

The breakthrough came for the Azzurri when Andreas Bouchalakis was penalised for handball after he blocked an Insigne shot with his arm, and Jorginho converted the resulting spot-kick.

Italy were then relieved to see Efthimis Koulouris fire into the side netting when he connected with a delivery across goal from Limnios after Zeca dispossessed Marco Verratti, while Anastasios Bakasetas wasted a gilt-edged opportunity when he mishit a volley from 12 yards.

Bernardeschi killed off the visitors' resistance when his low effort deflected past Paschalakis.

                                  

What's Next

Italy travel to Liechtenstein on Tuesday, while Greece host Bosnia and Herzegovina.

                   

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