Italy beat Malta 2-0 in the second round of Euro 2024 qualifying group C. Goals from Retegui (15') and Pessina (27').
A victory in Malta, the first three points on the road to Euro 2024, the relief of a forced success after the defeat in Naples with England.
And the confirmation of Retegui, the second blue goal in two appearances.
This is all the loot with which Roberto Mancini's Italy returns from Ta'qali, where Pessina signs the 2-0 in addition to the native striker.
But everything had to be done better, the coach mutters at the end of the game after having witnessed a very lackluster performance with clear discomfort.
The formation revolution is no excuse, which in addition to depriving the Azzurri of the traditional formula of double play in midfield, has brought together players who had never before been used to being together: up against, there was the national team number 167 in the world,
for which a tactically orderly defense with ten players behind the ball was enough to shut down the offensive solutions of the Azzurri.
Who are now meeting for the European qualifiers in Skopje, in September, against North Macedonia, which blocked the way to the World Cup.
In Malta's home, to put the disappointment of Naples behind him against an opponent that was certainly not irresistible, Mancini changed eight elevenths of Italy, as expected.
Euro 2024: Malta-Italy 0-2 - Football
Goals: in the 15th minute Retegui, 27th Pessina (ANSA)
Confirmation only for Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo and Retegui, the defense entrusts the central keys to Scalvini-Romagnoli and on the left is Piazza Emerson.
The midfield is completely new, with Cristante in front of the defense and Pessina-Tonali as midfielders.
In attack, Politano on the right and Gnonto on the left.
In short, a team never seen before, and on the pitch it is noticeable: the aggressiveness of the Maltese puts the blue dribble in difficulty, Mancini snorts on the sidelines, standing up.
And after 5' the thrill of Satariano even arrives: the Frosinone striker on loan in the island's championship cuts in the center between Scalvini and Pessina, and in advance with his left foot he raises under the crossbar where Donnarumma flies to play.
The blue maneuver remains slow and awkward, in the 14th minute Romagnoli tries from outside the area and his left foot nets the first corner.
Retegui as a true centre-forward guesses the right tempo and heads into the net all by himself.
It was the 1-0 that gave the national team some serenity, which had to give up Gnonto in the 20th minute due to an ankle problem.
Grifo enters on the left.
Euro 2024, England-Ukraine 2-0 - Football
English with full points in group C, that of Italy (ANSA)
However, Italy continues to prefer the action on the opposite flank and from there on 26' the doubling is born: Politano escapes all the way, swerves and puts in the center, Emerson is on Grifo's kick in the area who blocks and puts in the center, for the winning deflection of Pessina sills.
It's the 2-0 that undermines the Maltese tactical plan studied by the Italian coach Marcolini, not in the attitude but in the safety.
And in fact a couple of minutes later Grifo in the center of the area wastes a clean goal on the goalkeeper, only to then fall into contact with Mbong.
Useless protests, no penalty.
Around 40' the first speed combination, Grifo-Pessina-Grifo exchange and from the edge the Freiburg striker raises his shot too much.
In the recovery Politano enters the area launched,
Corbolan shoulder to shoulder throws him off balance but once again it's regular for the referee.
On his return Darmian takes the place of Di Lorenzo, Retegui immediately becomes dangerous in the center of the area following a cross from Emerson.
In the 6th minute he nearly scored the first goal, again with his head, again from a corner.
But apart from its centre-forward, Italy slowed down and Malta tried to take advantage of it: so Emerson had to save Corbolan's counter-cross from a corner on the line.
Among the few blues to look for variations Pessina, while Tonali got lost and in fact Mancini changed him with Verratti, on 20', at the same time as Scamacca for Retegui.
The West Ham centre-forward tries immediately, with a reverse sill that finds Bonello's fists.
Grifo tries from 25 meters after stealing the ball, the right foot is high on the half hour.
Then after another save by Emerson on Mbong in the area the game ends.
There is still time for a high right foot from Scamacca in the area.
Mancini wins and doesn't smile