Italy were clearly the dominant team against Iceland for 90 minutes. Nevertheless, the Southern Europeans didn’t win at 1:1 (0:1). That puts Italy bottom of Group D with just one point going into the final day of play. And now they desperately need a win in the final match against Belgium. Iceland (two points) must finally win against France.
Italy coach Milena Bertolini was optimistic after the game: “We knew we had to qualify in the last game, so it’s nothing new. A goal so early could have destroyed confidence players, but they did well to make him react.” Rakel Hönnudottir, Icelandic midfielder, admitted: “Italy should have scored another goal with their chances. They attacked for most of the game but in the end Iceland could have stolen the win.”
While Iceland could live with the 1-1 draw with Belgium in the opening match, the disappointment in the Italian side after the 1-1 draw with France was considerable. Italian coach Milena Bertolini reacted accordingly and changed the personnel in five positions. Lucia Di Guglielmo, Flaminia Simonetti, Martina Piemonte, Martina Rosucci and Valentina Giacinti started for Elisa Bartoli, Aurora Galli, Manuela Giugliano, Cristiana Girelli and Barbara Bonansea.
Throw, goal – Iceland leads early
However, none of this could prevent the Italians from making another false start. Less than three minutes passed before they were unable to defend a throw-in from the Icelanders. The ball went through Italy’s 16 until Karólína Vilhjálmsdóttir came from behind and placed the ball in the top right corner of the 14 yard box – 1-0 for Iceland.
The Italians looked embarrassed, but have now decided to take control of the game. Apparently Iceland was ok with that – at least the Northern Europeans have retreated from afar for now. The most dangerous Italian in the following minutes was Arianna Caruso, who failed in the 18th minute after a corner kick from close range by an Icelandic defensive leg.
Three minutes later, Caruso fired a long shot – but his shot from 18 yards was fair game for Iceland goalkeeper Sandra Sigurdadottir.
Italy – lots of possession, little return
Overall, Italy, despite all their dominance (85% ball possession after 30 minutes!), lacked consistency to be able to take advantage of their superiority. They nearly grabbed the 0:2 in one of the northerners’ rare counterattacks. But Sveindis Jonsdottir, who had recovered the ball in the opposing half, lacked the power to take a free shot from 16 yards.
Of course, with referee Lina Lehtovaara of Finland kicking off the second half, Italy had no other choice: they had to find more. Take even more risks. But it didn’t work at first. The “Isis” had everything under control further, the first ten minutes passed without incident.
Bergamaschi breaks the spell
After a good hour, however, the moment had come: in the left half of the penalty area, substitute Barbara Bonansea finally approached the baseline. The first cross attempt was unsuccessful, but on the second attempt it found Valentina Bergamaschi, who put the ball into the goal eight yards from the left.
The superiority of the Italians was now downright overwhelming. The Southern Europeans put on a power play and time and time again the spectators at Manchester City’s small training academy were screaming to score.
Bonansea at the post
In the 72nd minute, Bonansea hit the left post with the best chance from 13 yards. With all their zeal, however, the Italians would have come up against the decisive counterattack in the final stage. But although they didn’t concede another goal, the draw ended up being a disappointment.
Italy 1-1 Iceland (0-1)
Doors: 0-1 Vilhjálmsdóttir (3′), 1-1 Bergamaschi (62′)
The viewers: 4,028
Arbitrator: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland)
Italy: Giuliani – Di Guglielmo, Gama (58th Bartoli), Linari, Boattin – Bergamaschi, Simonetti, Rosucci, Caruso (46th Bonansea) – Piemonte (52nd Girelli), Giacinti (85th Sabatino)
Iceland: Sigurdadottir – Vidarsdottir, Viggosdottir, Arnardottir, Gisladottir – G. Jonsdottir (57th Johannsdottir), Brynjarsdottir, Gunnarsdottir (77th Gudmundsdottir) – S. Jonsdottir, Thorvaldsdottir (58th Albertsdottir), Vilhjalmsdottir
#Group #Italy #fail #capitalize #oppressive #superiority #Iceland