Italy head coach Roberto Mancini insisted the Azzurri are not done yet after silencing their doubters to reach the Euro 2020 final.
Not since 1968 have Italy won the European Championship but they are one victory away from adding to their solitary Euro crown following Tuesday’s 4-2 penalty shoot-out triumph over Spain.
After the semi-final finished 1-1 at the end of extra time at Wembley, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Alvaro Morata’s spot-kick as Jorginho stepped up to convert the winning penalty in London.
Amid a national record 33-game unbeaten streak, Italy will face either England or Denmark in Sunday’s decider at Wembley.
“We’re delighted to have been able to provide this wonderful evening’s entertainment to the Italian people and now we still have one game to go and we want to do exactly that if possible,” Mancini – who has overseen a stunning transformation after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup – said during a news conference.
“We knew that it was going to be a very tough match because in terms of ball possession, Spain are the best around. They caused us problems, we had to dig in when we needed to. We tried to score and create opportunities when we could it was a very open match and of course there were some issues because we didn’t have too much possession.
“However we wanted to make it into the final and we kept trying right until the end and as ever penalties are a lottery but I really want to take my hat off to Spain, they’re a wonderful team.”
Italy became the second team in the European Championship history after winners France at Euro 2000 to have five different players score two or more goals in a single tournament, following Federico Chiesa’s 60th-minute opener, which was cancelled out by Morata with 10 minutes of regulation remaining.
The Azzurri’s 12 goals at Euro 2020 is their joint-highest tally at a major tournament alongside the 2006, 1982 and 1934 World Cups. On each of those occasions, they left with the trophy.
Italy reached their 10th major final (World Cup and Euros), progressing to the decider of the European Championships for the fourth time (also six World Cup finals) – only Germany (14) have participated in more major finals amongst European nations.
Mancini said: “I must say that we are very happy about all of this, and I must thank the players because they have believed right from day one that we could produce something incredible. We haven’t yet done everything we need to, there’s still one step to go, and now we have to rest up because this really was very challenging.
“I did say to them before the match that this would be our hardest game of the competition, because when you go into your sixth match in such quick succession with all the travelling we’ve had to do, it does become very tiring. We certainly struggled with Spain’s ball possession and had some issues, but we wanted to make the final.”
“I think when you’re involved in such an intense World Cup or European Championship, there always comes a game where you will have to dig in to be able to win a match and suffer, because it can’t all be very smooth as our progress has been thus far going into the final four,” he continued. “So we knew that it was going to be a very tough match, and we knew that it was going to be this game that would be the tough one. That’s why I think the players, and everyone that has worked with us over the last three years deserve a lot of credit, because it wasn’t easy by any means. Almost no one believed we could do it. And yet we are into the final. We are pleased for Italians everywhere that have been following us over the last few weeks.”
Mancini added: “Everyone wants to do this. Occasionally it comes off, sometimes less so. But the players did want to do something different, they wanted to play a brand of football that people enjoyed and thus far they’ve managed to do exactly that. Difficult tasks are ultimately all the more enjoyable, and we are very happy to have made it into the final but we haven’t achieved anything yet. So we still have to wait.”