Malta vs Italy 0-2: Azzurri Bounce Back as Retegui Scores Again

Following Thursday’s defeat at the hand of England, Italy earned their maiden victory in the Euro 2024 qualifiers at the expense of their hosts Malta. Mateo Retegui broke the deadlock early on, becoming the first Azzurri star to score in his first two caps since 1968. Matteo Pessina snatched the second goal to give the visitors a healthy lead before the halftime break, and the result remained unchanged until the final whistle.

Starting Lineups

Coincidentally, Malta have an Italian manager at the helm in the form of Michele Marcolini. The former Atalanta and Chievo player started the match with a 3-5-2 formation spearheaded by Alexander Satariano and Jodi Jones.

On the other hand, Roberto Mancini decided to rotate his 4-3-3 lineup following England’s defeat, with only Gianluigi Donnarumma, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Retegui maintaining their starting spots.

In addition to Di Lorenzo, the backline featured, Giorgio Scalvini, Alessio Romagnoli and Emerson. In the middle of the park, Bryan Cristante slotted in between Pessina and Sandro Tonali, while Matteo Politano and Wilfried Gnonto flanked Retegui upfront.

Retegui Scores Again

For the second match in a row, Italo-Argentine bomber Retegui put his name on the scoresheet. The striker made it two goals in two caps by nodding home Sandro Tonali’s corner kick.

The Italy number 19 rose above his marker to meet the inch-perfect cross, punishing the indecisive Malta goalkeeper for his reluctant approach.

Italy Add Another

In the 27th minute, the visitors consolidated their lead by adding another goal courtesy of Pessina. Vincenzo Grifo – who came off the bench to replace the injured Gnonto – failed to properly connect with an inviting cross, but Emerson picked up the loose ball on the left flank and his low cross found the Monza captain who directed the ball goalward from close range.

Italy could have easily added a third goal before the halftime break, but Grifo wasted a golden opportunity when he found himself one-on-one against the Matla shot-stopper who prevailed in this particular due.

The European champions also had two valid penalty shouts waved away by the official as well as VAR.

Uneventful Second Half

While the first half was certainly entertaining from the standpoint of an Azzurri supporter, Mancini’s men dropped the tempo for the best part of the second period. At one point, Malta became the better side, prompting the Italy boss to bring in Marco Verratti to restore order.

The highlight of the second period was a splendid overhead kick from substitute Gianluca Scamacca which sparked a fabulous stop from the goalkeeper.

Italy Win the Day

While it wasn’t the most memorable performance, Italy collected their first points in the Euro 2024 qualifiers with a 2-0 victory in Malta. Sterner tests against Ukraine and North Macedonia will come, but for now, the Azzurri stars must return to their clubs and resume the campaign.

Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football