UEFA Euro 2020 Italy-Switzerland score: Manuel Locatelli double seals last 16 ticket for the Azzurri

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Italy became the first side to reach the knockout round of the UEFA Euro 2020 as Manuel Locatelli scored an excellent brace in a 3-0 win over Switzerland in Rome.

Fresh from their 3-0 win over Turkey in the competition’s opening game, Roberto Mancini’s side were perhaps even more impressive in repeating the scoreline against Switzerland, Ciro Immobile striking in the 89th minute to add gloss to a dominant night. Even if the hamstring injury suffered by Giorgio Chiellini in the first half threatens to weaken their outstanding backline for the tournament ahead. If any future opponents are to exploit that potential weakness, they will have to get the ball off Italy, which is no mean feat with Jorginho, Locatelli and Nicolo Barella dominating the midfield.

From the outset at the Stadio Olimpico, Italy played with the surety of a side that believe themselves to be champions in waiting. It did not take look for them to put the ball in the net, Chiellini scrambling home a corner by Lorenzo Insigne only to see VAR deny him after he had handled the ball in knocking it down. Moments later, the Juventus veteran would limp out of the contest, clutching his hamstring to be replaced by Francesco Acerbi.

Losing their captain did not knock Italy off their stride, their possession play growing all the more assured as they cut through Switzerland down the flanks and through the middle. The opening goal was worth the wait for the home fans, a flowing move down the right that ended with Domenico Berardi picking out the late run of Locatelli for the Sassuolo midfielder to roll the ball past Yann Sommer in the Swiss goal.

Locatelli’s second goal might have been even better. Picking the ball up on the edge of the penalty area in the 52nd minute, he set himself on his left foot before fizzing a low drive into the bottom left corner. It was not only in front of goal that the 23-year-old impressed, only three of his first 44 passes failing to find a teammate.

On the rare occasion the Italian backline was breached, Gianluigi Donnarumma was on hand to make the save, a particularly impressive double block from Stephane Zubar on the hour-mark, extending his run without conceding a goal at international level to 755 minutes. Ciro Immobile might have added further gloss to the scoreline as Italy consistently threatened on the counter in the last half-hour of the game, twice striking beyond Sommer’s far post before finishing off the rout with a superb low drive in the 89th minute.

With six points from a possible six, Italy have guaranteed their place in the last 16 though Wales could pip them to first place with a win at the Stadio Olimpico. Meanwhile, Switzerland almost certainly need to win against Turkey in Baku to reach the last 16.