Italy needed to fight until the extra time to see off their last-16 opponents Austria 2-1 at the European Championship in London on Saturday.
Italy won all three group matches to advance into the last-16 round comfortably without conceding a goal. They traveled to London to take on Austria, who reached the knockout phase of the competition for the first time.
Since the start of the match, the Azzurri launched attack one after another. They could easily push to the front especially from the left flank with an active left defender Leonardo Spinazzola, but failed to achieve any goal when facing the tough defence from Austria.
Their best chance in the first half came in the 32nd minute when Ciro Immobile’s curved long shot hit the left top corner of the woodwork.
After the interval, Austria threatened more often in the box while the Italian players showed sign of impatience.
In the 65th minute, Bayern Munich David Alaba headed the ball across the box and Marko Arnautovic nodded it in from close range. But a lengthy VAR check ruled out the goal for offside.
A scoreless tie in the regular time saw the game at Wembley went into extra time. Italy made breakthrough soon as late substitute Federico Chiesa swept home a small angled shot near the post in the 95th minute.
Ten minutes later, Matteo Pessina added a second for Italy while Austria pulled one back with Sasa Kalajdzic’s header in the closing stage.
Italy will face the winners between defending champions Portugal and Belgium in the quarterfinals.
XINHUA | LONDON