Italy have sealed their place in the knockout phase of the Euro 2016 Championships following a superb late Eder Martins’ goal which helped them to a lone goal win over Sweden side in Toulouse on Friday.
Italy had before Friday dispatched Ukraine 2-0 in their opening game and they were keen to keep the tempo against the Zlatan-Ibrahimovic inspired Swedish side who on their part struggled in their opening game against Ireland needing an own-goal to have a share of the spoils in the game which ended 1-1.
As expected, Friday’s game was quite compact and chances were far apart for both teams and it was looking like it was going to be another barren outing same way the Germany Poland game ended.
Things however began to look differently when Italy’s best chance came on 82 minutes, as Giaccherini’s cross found Parolo at the back post for a header that bounced off the crossbar.
The deadlock was finally broken in the final minutes, as Zaza knocked down a long Chiellini throw-in for Eder, who cut in past three defenders to curl a finish into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box.
It was a great response to those who criticised the Inter striker’s inclusion in the squad, as he had scored only one club goal in six months.
Before Friday’s win, Italy hadn’t won the second group game in a tournament since Euro 2000, followed by five draws and two defeats.
Italy 1-0 Sweden
Eder 88 (I)
Italy: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Parolo, De Rossi (Thiago Motta 74), Giaccherini, Florenzi (Sturaro 85); Eder, Pellè (Zaza 59)
Sweden: Isaksson; Lindelöf, Granqvist, Johansson, Olsson; Larsson, Ekdal (Lewicki 79), Källström, Forsberg (Durmaz 79); Guidetti (Berg 85), Ibrahimovic
Ref: Kassai (HUN)