Wojciech Szczesny said Juventus' performance in a 4-0 Champions League thrashing at the hands of titleholders Chelsea was "unacceptable".

Chelsea cruised into the round of 16 and replaced Juve, who had already qualified, at the top of Group H by hammering Massimiliano Allegri's side at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Trevoh Chalobah opened the scoring in the first half with a controversial goal after Antonio Rudiger appeared to handle the ball in the penalty area.

The Premier League leaders ran riot after the break, the outstanding Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner consigning the Bianconeri to their heaviest Champions League defeat.

Juve had not lost by a four-goal margin in any competition since they were subjected to a 4-0 drubbing by Serie A rivals Roma in February 2004.

It was a busy night for Juve goalkeeper Szczesny, who stressed the Turin giants must not dwell on a painful evening in London.

"We were low and passive, it's a defeat that is difficult to explain, unacceptable, but we must forget [about it and] go on. Saturday is a difficult match against Atalanta," he told Mediaset.

"It is very important to have a match right away [after the Chelsea loss], so we have the opportunity to respond. After tonight there will be a lot of deserved criticism and on Saturday we will have to respond on the pitch.

"We saw a clear difference between us and Chelsea. We did very well in the first game [against Chelsea], but today we played below our level, they were at their level and we saw the difference."

Leonardo Bonucci said Juve must learn from being outplayed by Thomas Tuchel's in-form Chelsea.

"It's a heavy defeat, certainly, we have to take the lesson that against these teams you must always go at 1,000 kilometres per hour, because the moment you slow it down, they punish you," the stand-in captain told Sky Sport Italia and Sport Mediaset.

"It is important we learn the lessons from this game, which is that against these teams, you cannot lower the intensity or concentration for a moment.

"We conceded the first goal from a corner, it might've been handball. We should've controlled it better in the second half, as they caused us so many problems."

Leonardo Bonucci scored two penalties as Juventus beat Lazio 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday and insists that it does not matter where the goals come from as long as the Bianconeri win.

The centre-back's brace means he is now Juventus' joint-top scorer in Serie A this term, joining Paulo Dybala on three league goals for the season, and has the highest expected goals total in the squad (4.04).

It is indicative of the Bianconeri's struggles to score that the 34-year-old defender ranks so highly in those metrics, managing just 18 Serie A goals as a team so far - only good enough for joint-10th in the division.

Bonucci is unconcerned with where his side's goals come from, however, with Juventus desperate for a run of good results to lift them from seventh in the league.

"We must give our all to take Juventus back to battling for every objective," Bonucci said to DAZN. "We created a few important situations today with the strikers, such as Alvaro Morata in the first half and Moise Kean in the second.

"The important thing is to bring home the three points, it doesn’t matter who gets the goals. I believe we will bring home better results with more determination and self-belief as the season goes on.

"When you are Juve and have the start to the season we did, criticism is natural and we need to take that, but we saw that with the right spirit, we can make the difference.

"It was a fundamental victory, as it's always tough after the break for international duty. We know with this spirit of sacrifice, the games depend on us. We really did well to limit Lazio, allow them nothing and score two goals of our own."

Bonucci's success from the spot prompted questions as to why he was not on penalty duty for Italy, with Jorginho sending the ball over the bar in the 90th minute of a 1-1 draw with Switzerland on November 12 that contributed to the European champions' slide into the World Cup qualifying play-offs.

"A week ago, Jorginho was the penalty specialist and it was only right that he take it," Bonucci continued. "If I had been asked to take the penalty, it would not have been a problem."

Juventus travel to London to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Atalanta the following Saturday.

Juventus eased to a 2-0 win against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to move up to sixth place in Serie A.

A Leonardo Bonucci penalty in each half proved enough for Massimiliano Allegri's side, making it back-to-back wins in the league after they beat Fiorentina 1-0 before the international break.

Lazio were without star striker Ciro Immobile and it showed as the Biancocelesti struggled to create much in the way of chances.

Maurizio Sarri would have been hoping to do better against his former club, with his team now having won just twice in their last seven games in all competitions.

Danilo was forced off with an injury for the visitors after 15 minutes following a strong challenge from Elseid Hysaj, with Dejan Kulusevski replacing the Brazilian.

Juventus had their first penalty in the 22nd minute after Danilo Cataldi was judged to have fouled Alvaro Morata in the box following a VAR review, which Bonucci coolly dispatched past Pepe Reina.

Morata should have made it two just before half-time when Juan Cuadrado lifted a delicate ball into the box, only for the Spain striker's scissor-kick to fly over the bar.

Juve had their second penalty with ten minutes to go after Federico Chiesa rounded Reina, only to be hacked down by the goalkeeper before he could score, and Bonucci made no mistake to seal the win.


What does it mean? Juve back on track

Shortly before the international break there was slight talk of crisis at Juventus. Back-to-back defeats against Sassuolo and Verona saw the Old Lady sitting in ninth place, 16 points off the top of the table.

After victory here, they are temporarily at least up to sixth and have cut Napoli and Milan's lead at the top to 11 points, albeit with both still yet to play this weekend.

They will hope to build on three wins in a row in all competitions when they travel to Chelsea for matchday five of the Champions League in midweek, where a win will confirm them as winners of Group H.

Better week for Bonucci

Bonucci and the rest of his Italian team-mates had an international break to forget, with draws against Switzerland and Northern Ireland meaning that the Azzurri must now go through the play-offs if they are to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

However, Bonucci's penalties against Lazio not only won the game, but also mean he has scored more Serie A goals than any other defender since the beginning of the last decade (27).

Lazio lack mobility without Immobile

Immobile is one of only four players already with at least 10 goals in the big five European leagues this season, along with Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah.

Lazio unsurprisingly missed their talisman here, with only one of their eight shots at goal hitting the target.

What's next?

Lazio face Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia in the Europa League on Thursday, while Juventus travel to Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci has backed Jorginho to remain on penalty duties despite the midfielder's potentially costly miss in Friday's 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

Jorginho fired over the bar from 12 yards in the 90th minute after Ulisses Garcia was adjudged to have nudged over fellow substitute Domenico Berardi inside the box.

The Chelsea man has now missed three penalties in a row for Italy – one against England in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out and two against Switzerland in World Cup 2022 qualifying.

That follows a run of six successful spot-kicks on the spin, and skipper Bonucci is happy for Jorginho to take Italy's next penalty.

"He is our penalty taker and will continue to be," Bonucci told Rai Sport. "Four months ago he scored the decisive penalty against Spain that took us to the Euros final.

"We all make mistakes. Now we must look ahead to our next game if we are to reach the World Cup."

 

Jorginho's miss came after Giovanni Di Lorenzo had cancelled out fellow right-back Silvan Widmer's drive in a gripping first half at Stadio Olimpico.

Italy would have moved three points clear of Switzerland at the top of Group C had Jorginho converted, but instead they remain level on points with their opponents.

Azzurri goalscorer Di Lorenzo joined Bonucci in defending Jorginho's recent record from the spot.

"He may have missed his last three, but he is a great champion and he's our penalty taker," Di Lorenzo told Rai Sport. "We will all support him to get through this moment."

Italy have a slightly superior goal difference to Switzerland, meaning they only have to match Murat Yakin's side's scoreline in the final round of games if they are to qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 and avoid the play-offs.

European champions Italy travel to Northern Ireland on Monday, while Switzerland are at home to Bulgaria in their concluding qualifier.

Despite his side having won just two of their six matches since lifting the European Championship trophy, Roberto Mancini is confident his side can complete the job in Belfast.

"Against Northern Ireland we start with an advantage, and it's not a small one," Mancini said. "If we play well and score the goals we didn't score today...

"It was a difficult game and we were impacted by the goal we conceded. It's a shame that we didn't score in the second half."

Northern Ireland have not conceded in any of their three home qualifiers this campaign, but Gianluigi Donnarumma insisted his side will head to Windsor Park with the mindset of scoring goals.

"It's normal to be angry, but we don't worry too much because in a few days there is another important match," he said. "We need to recharge our energy immediately and we will be ready to have a great match and win.

"We will head into the next game with the right mentality that is needed to win the match and go to the World Cup. Right now we have to think only about winning and about ourselves.

"We will see what happens in the other match in the group afterwards. We have to think about winning and scoring a few goals. Then we will see what happens."

Giorgio Chiellini hopes Matthijs de Ligt is not taken away from Juventus by agent Mino Raiola, as he feels his defensive colleague already "has everything".

Now 37, Juve captain Chiellini is in the final years of his career, but the future of the Turin giants appears to be in the hands of De Ligt.

The former Ajax captain is still just 22 and is settled in Serie A in his third season with the Bianconeri.

De Ligt underwhelmed a little following his €75million transfer to Italy but has since performed well, last committing an error leading to a chance in the league in his debut 2019-20 season.

Although De Ligt has been limited to six appearances this term, with veteran duo Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred against Inter on Sunday, he is certainly becoming a more dominant defender.

No Juve defender is contesting (4.5) or winning (3.4) more aerial duels per 90 than De Ligt in 2021-22, while his overall duel success rate for the season is up significantly to 67.4 per cent.

Indeed, Chiellini believes De Ligt has the full package, telling DAZN: "He's very strong, I call him Thor.

 

"If he had been Italian, it would have been easier to keep him for many years, I hope that Mino will give us the pleasure of leaving him a few more years in Turin.

"He has everything, but the difference is made in the head; he is 22 years old but has the mentality of someone of 30, and he sets himself the goal of wanting to improve every day."

De Ligt arrived at Juve as Andrea Barzagli retired, but he still finds himself competing with the other two members of the great 'BBC' back line.

That might not have been the case, however, as Bonucci briefly left for Milan – a move that upset Chiellini.

"I was hurt. That Milan was a team in difficulty, it was not Real Madrid or even Milan of now," he said. "Today it would be different, but at the time going there meant taking a clear step back.

"The choices remain personal and must be respected, but if we had been on holiday together that summer I would have made him understand that he was making a mistake. He realised it very soon."

Chiellini also could have been out the door by now, revealing he considered retiring following the coronavirus outbreak but played on to star at Euro 2020, where Italy won the title.

"I lived a hard period after my injury," Chiellini said. "I returned after six months and shortly after COVID broke out, and for almost a year I struggled to find the right balance.

"The thought of retirement made its way into my head but it was the European Championship that kept me going with the desire to be there at all costs."

Juventus relied too heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo over the past three seasons, Leonardo Bonucci suggested after Wednesday's Champions League win over Zenit.

Ronaldo joined Juve in 2018 and helped the Bianconeri win Serie A twice, though they fell short of winning a 10th straight Scudetto last season.

The 36-year-old left Juve in August, heading back to Manchester United in a shock transfer. He hit the ground running at Old Trafford and, after going two games without a goal, scored the winner in the Red Devils' 3-2 comeback victory over Juve's fellow Serie A side Atalanta midweek.

While Ronaldo spearheaded United's attack in Manchester, Juve moved onto nine points in Champions League Group H as Dejan Kulusevski's 86th-minute header sealed a 1-0 win over Zenit.

It is the first time Juve have won all three of their opening Champions League group-stage matches since Massimiliano Allegri's last season in charge, back in 2018-19.

Though they have made an impressive start in Europe, Juve have laboured in the league and sit seventh heading into Sunday's derby d'Italia clash with Inter, though a win would take them onto level points with the defending champions.

Ronaldo scored 36 goals in all competitions last season, with only four players across Europe's top-five leagues managing more, but Bonucci believes Juve lost a will to "suffer and sacrifice".

"It's absolutely true, it is what we all said," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia after the win in St Petersburg. "In the recent past, we had lost that characteristic of Juve.

"We were all playing with a great champion and wanted him to do well, so perhaps we lost that desire to all suffer and sacrifice ourselves together, because we assumed he would sort it out.

"The coach has done really well to get that spirit and humility back and we all work together now to get the result."

While Juve may have their spirit back, they did lack cutting edge for a significant portion of Wednesday's match.

Weston McKennie had passed up two previous opportunities, including what was the best chance of the game, as per Opta's expected goals (xG) value, when he saw a close-range effort saved by Stanislav Kritsyuk in the 51st minute.

Kulusevski eventually broke the deadlock when he glanced Mattia De Sciglio's cross in off the post to become Juve's second-youngest Champions League goalscorer, after the great Alessandro Del Piero.

"I will never forget this goal for as long as I live," Kulusevski told Juventus TV. "It was my debut Champions League goal, the first I have scored this season and it was even a header!"

Juve's cause in attack might have been helped by Paulo Dybala, but the Argentine forward, whose next Champions League appearance will be his 50th in the competition, was unavailable due to an injury he sustained last month.

Before the match, vice-president Pavel Nedved revealed talks over a new deal are almost resolved.

Nedved told Sky Sport Italia: "We all hope he can be on the pitch and sign the new contract. I believe we are very close to the signature, we're very happy. Paulo is very important for this team."

Italy's world-record 37-game unbeaten run came to an end on Wednesday as Spain booked their place in the 2021 Nations League final with a 2-1 win at San Siro. 

Roberto Mancini's side overcame Spain in the last four of Euro 2020 in July, but they were blown away by a Roja side who will play the winners of Thursday's other semi-final between France and Belgium in the decider on Sunday. 

Ferran Torres was their star man, the Manchester City forward delivering two superb finishes either side of Leonardo Bonucci's dismissal for the Azzurri before half-time. 

Lorenzo Pellegrini set up a dramatic finale with a breakaway goal in the 83rd minute, yet Luis Enrique's side held firm in the closing stages to progress to the final. 

Spain started brightly and went ahead after 17 minutes when Torres steered a 10-yard volley past Gianluigi Donnarumma after being picked out by Mikel Oyarzabal's sumptuous cross.

Donnarumma almost gifted Spain a second less than a minute later as he fumbled Marcos Alonso's strike onto the post, while Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne went close to restoring parity at the other end.

Italy's hopes were dealt a blow three minutes before the interval when Bonucci received a second yellow card for catching Sergio Busquets with an elbow in an aerial challenge.

Spain capitalised on their numerical advantage in first-half stoppage time, Torres again getting on the end of an Oyarzabal cross to head into Donnarumma's far corner.

Oyarzabal should have made it three shortly after the hour mark, but his header from Yeremy's cross flew agonisingly wide of Donnarumma's right-hand post. 

The excellent Federico Chiesa teed Pellegrini up for a tap-in after a lightning quick break in the final 10 minutes, but Italy were unable to find the leveller that would have preserved their remarkable undefeated streak at least into extra time. 

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri highlighted the importance of beating Chelsea after his underperforming side topped the Champions League holders to preserve their 100 per cent record in Group H.

Federico Chiesa scored the earliest second-half goal in Opta's Champions League records as Juve overcame Chelsea 1-0 in Turin on Wednesday.

Juve came into the blockbuster showdown with just two wins from their first six Serie A fixtures this season, though they did ease past Malmo in their Champions League opener.

It is only the fourth time Juve have won their first two matches of the Champions League group phase without conceding a single – the last two (this season and 2018-19) have been under Allegri.

Allegri revelled in the result as Juve continue to grow in his second stint at the Italian giants, having replaced Andrea Pirlo in the off-season.

"It was important to get the three points, this victory is a step forward to pass the group stage," Allegri told reporters.

"It is also important for the lads because they won against the European champions. This victory is good for all of us as it boosts the morale of the team.

"We played well against a very physical team; the team was very organised defensively. We did not concede much, we had also some chance and in some moments we could do better when managing the ball.

"This helps us understand that you also achieve big objectives through this kind of games."

Juve are unbeaten in their last four Champions League encounters against Chelsea (W2 D2), winning their last two without conceding.

The Bianconeri have won 12 of their last 13 Champions League group-stage games (L1), winning each of the last four without conceding a goal.

Allegri added: "There are no turns. It is a game that allows us to go to six points and certainly look at the champions with more optimism to try to go through. Then the championship is another thing.

"The team understood: because when you manage to have possession of the ball, to have dominion over the field, then we keep the ball. When you have an opponent who still does not allow it, it is normal that you have to adapt and you have to play a defensive game." 

Juve finished the match with just 26.9 per cent possession and passing accuracy of 74.6 per cent, while they mustered only one shot on target.

After nullifying Chelsea star Romelu Lukaku, Juve and Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci said: "I see it more as a game that should serve as a lesson. But as mentioned it was a bit of matches we were looking for that attitude that we had lost a bit in recent years and that had only been seen in fits and starts.

"It must be the demonstration, it must be an example, it must not be the exception. The mental intensity and the desire to be a team on every ball: that made the difference tonight because the qualities are there.

"Sometimes maybe we are technically wrong too much, but with this mentality, with this intensity that we had tonight, the victories in certain games come as a consequence."

Cristiano Ronaldo's presence at Juventus may have had a negative effect on some of his team-mates as they started to take wins for granted, according to Leonardo Bonucci.

Portugal captain Ronaldo's three-year stay at the Allianz Stadium came to an end last month when returning to Manchester United in a shock transfer.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was an ultra-reliable frontman for the Italian giants, scoring 101 goals in 134 appearances.

That includes a return of 36 goals in 2020-21, a tally bettered by only four players across Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

But Juventus missed out on the title in a disappointing campaign last time out that saw them only just scrape into fourth place.

The Bianconeri did win the Scudetto in Ronaldo's previous two campaigns, but they never made it past the quarter-final stage of the Champions League in three attempts.

Bonucci has suggested Juve too often became reliant on Ronaldo – who has four goals in four games since rejoining United – to win them matches.

"This was the thing. The idea that one player, even the best in the world, could guarantee Juventus victory," he told The Athletic. "Cristiano's presence had a big influence on us. 

"Just training with him gave us something extra but subconsciously players started to think his presence alone was enough to win games. 

"We began to fall a little short in our daily work, the humility, the sacrifice, the desire to be there for your team-mate day after day. Over the last few years, you could see that.

"Last season, we finished fourth and won the Coppa Italia because we became a team again. 

"If you had thrown a piece of wood in the dressing room before those games it would have caught fire such was the electricity running through it. We missed that. 

"Maybe it was taken for granted that if we gave the ball to Cristiano he'd win us the game. But Cristiano needed the team as much as we needed him. 

"There had to be a trade-off because it's the team that lifts the individual even if the individual is the best player on the planet."

Bonucci has spent 11 seasons with Juve either side of a one-year spell at Milan in 2017-18, helping the Turin heavyweights to 17 trophies across a 445-game spell.

The 358 Serie A appearances made by Bonucci since he first joined Juve in July 2010 is a tally bettered by only four other players in the competition – Radja Nainggolan (360), Andrea Consigli (361), Antonio Candreva (365) and Samir Handanovic (408).

However, the veteran Italy centre-back has revealed he nearly left Juve a year prior to that unsuccessful Milan switch when Pep Guardiola and Manchester City came calling.

"I had this dream of being coached by Pep," Bonucci said. "The closest we came was in 2016. I was on the brink of joining City. 

"We were down to the very last details then Juventus decided not to sell. We decided to stay together. Then I went to AC Milan. 

"I could have gone to City but several things had to fall into place for it to happen. I'd also given my word to Milan. 

"Last year, I spoke to Pep again. He wanted me but I told him: 'Juventus is my home. I'm happy here. I feel at home here'. 

"I wanted to make up the ground I lost by going to Milan for a season. Becoming a symbol of Juventus again is the most exciting thing I could be doing in my career right now."

Leonardo Bonucci has continued to rub salt into the wounds of England after Italy's success in the Euro 2020 final, saying Declan Rice played a part in motivating the tournament winners.

West Ham midfielder Rice said ahead of the final in July that England would be 10 times more ready than their opponents for the Wembley showpiece.

Those words, and the repetitive playing of England's Three Lions song after the country's semi-final win over Denmark, fuelled Bonucci and his team-mates, who ultimately won the competition on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

"We didn't pay much attention to it [the Three Lions song] until the Spain game," Bonucci, who ridiculed England's 'It's Coming Home' catchphrase on the pitch after Italy's win, said in an interview with The Athletic.

"Then the anger inside of us began to mount. We wanted to show them that the final hadn't already been decided. That they hadn't already won. 

"Hearing that song on repeat and the comment from Declan Rice saying England were 10 times more motivated to win than us – well, they're the kind of mistakes young players make. 

"You don't say that. You should never say you want something more than somebody else, or you're better than somebody else.

"You should always put yourself on the same level as your opponent, keep a low profile and strike at the right moment. That's what we did."

 

Italy also won their semi-final against Spain on penalties, and Bonucci felt Roberto Mancini's men had the right mix of confidence and humility.

The Juventus defender added: "We never said we were going to win, just that we were an inch away from going all the way and getting the right result.

"We were never presumptuous about it. We stayed humble and that's what made the difference.

"We had a great team, a great coach and a great staff behind us. To give our country and ourselves that kind of joy was something truly special."

Paulo Dybala left the pitch in tears after scoring the opening goal as Juventus beat Sampdoria 3-2 in Massimiliano Allegri's 400th Serie A game in charge.

Dybala showed his class with a great finish but was forced off midway through the first half three days before a Champions League clash with Chelsea, having seemingly sustained a muscular problem.

Leonardo Bonucci doubled Juve's lead from the penalty spot, but Maya Yoshida's header gave Samp hope just before half-time at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Manuel Locatelli's first goal for the Bianconeri gave them breathing space and although Antonio Candreva's strike set up a tense finale, the Turin giants secured a back-to-back Serie A home wins – and their first at home this season – in boss Allegri's landmark match.

Dybala put Juve in front with a fine finish in the 10th minute, rifling into the bottom-right corner with his left foot from outside the penalty area after Locatelli had set him up.

Alvaro Morata failed to beat Emil Audero when he went one-on-one with the Samp goalkeeper after being slipped in by Dybala, who was the best player on the pitch before he was replaced by Dejan Kulusevski just 22 minutes in.

Bonucci took the armband from an emotional Dybala and he doubled Juve's lead in the 43rd minute after Nicola Murru handled Federico Chiesa's shot.

The Bianconeri had only just finished celebrating when Yoshida rose to nod in Antonio Candreva's inviting cross to half the deficit just before the break.

Locatelli restored Juve's two-goal advantage 12 minutes into the second half, though, slotting Kulusevski's cutback into the empty net to punish Omar Colley for a terrible pass inside his own area.

Audero showed sharp reflexes to palm over Rodrigo Bentancur's rasping drive and Morata failed to round off a swift break when he fired wide.

Candreva finished clinically with his left foot against his former club when Adrien Silva picked him out seven minutes from time, but Juve held on to secure three much-needed points.

Lionel Messi's imminent switch to Paris Saint-Germain has not had an impact on Cristiano Ronaldo's future with Juventus, according to team-mate Leonardo Bonucci.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is expected to complete a move to PSG this week after bringing an end to his 21-year association with Barcelona.

French giants PSG have previously been linked with fellow superstar forward Ronaldo, who is now into the final 12 months of his contract with Juve.

With any path to the Parc des Princes now effectively being cut off by Messi's arrival, Ronaldo looks set to stay in Turin for at least the next year.

However, Bonucci insists the shock transfer involving Messi has had no bearing on where Ronaldo will play his football this coming season.

"I think that Cristiano would have stayed even if Messi had not gone to PSG," the Juve defender told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"For us, it's an added value and I'm sure that this year, more than in past years, he will help us reach all of our goals."

 

Since Ronaldo joined Juventus from Real Madrid in 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than the Portugal forward's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over this period rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

Despite Ronaldo enjoying another prolific season in front of goal, Juve finished fourth in Serie A in 2020-21.

And Bonucci, who played a starring role in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph, is aiming to win back the title from Inter when the new season begins in a little under two weeks' time.

"We want to bring the Scudetto back home, there is no point in hiding that," he said. 

"When you play for Juventus, that has to be the objective for the season, just like having a great Champions League campaign and fighting on all fronts.

"Personally, though, my goal is to continue my form from the Euros, where I played a major role, and do that again with Juventus."

Roberto Mancini believes he and Gianluca Vialli came 'full circle' at Wembley Stadium, making amends for Sampdoria's European Cup final defeat against Barcelona by succeeding with Italy against England in the Euro 2020 final.

Mancini guided his country to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 with a shoot-out victory over Gareth Southgate's men, courtesy of Gianluigi Donnarumma's penalty-saving heroics.

Tasked with rebuilding after failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, Mancini led his side to a 34-game unbeaten run that culminated in the Euro 2020 success.

After the failure of 2018, the first year in which the Azzurri had failed to reach a World Cup since 1958, Mancini told SPORT1 "Italy was down".

"You [Italy] immediately felt that everyone wanted reparations and were ready to work their a***s for the country", the former Manchester City head coach added.

But Italy's title did not just represent success for this current crop of players, it also provided comfort for Mancini and the Azzurri's team delegation chief Vialli, who came up short with Sampdoria against Barcelona at Wembley in 1992.

"I still remember that game [the 1992 European Cup final] very well. We shouldn't have lost it, it wasn't deserved," said Mancini.

"But now the circle has come full. 30 years later. Madness! I'm also happy because this trophy also belongs to the Sampdoria fans to a certain extent. Unfortunately, they had to accept the bitter defeat at the time. Now the wounds are being healed."

Italy's impressive defence propelled them to their success as they conceded just four goals at Euro 2020, with England (two), Belgium and Finland (three each), the only teams able to boast better defensive records.

Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, whose 12 interceptions topped the defensive rankings alongside Ukraine's Mykola Matvienko, marshalled the backline in front of shoot-out hero Donnarumma and Mancini feels the pair deserve significant credit.

"Giorgio [Chiellini] and Leo [Bonucci], of course, have a very large part in our wonderful success. They deserve it so much because they represent 20 years of Italian football history," he explained.

The praise of Chiellini and Bonucci aside, Mancini batted off questions surrounding immortality and history to conclude: "This title is for all the Italians in our country.

"But it is also a gift to all Italians abroad. There is boundless joy right now."

Leonardo Bonucci claimed the booing of the Italian national anthem by England fans helped to inspire the Azzurri to Euro 2020 glory.

Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties in Sunday's final at Wembley after the match had finished 1-1 following extra time.

Bonucci, who equalised to cancel out Luke Shaw's opener – the quickest goal ever scored in a European Championship final – and then converted his spot-kick in the shoot-out, was a rock at the heart of Italy's defence throughout the tournament.

No defender made more interceptions at Euro 2020 than Bonucci, whose tally of 12 tied him with Ukraine's Mykola Matvienko.

Several incidents occurred outside the ground on Sunday, with groups of supporters without tickets managing to force entry into Wembley.

With an already tense atmosphere perhaps not aided by these scenes, boos rang around the stadium during the Italian anthem.

Bonucci, though, said the jeers only helped lift Roberto Mancini's team and, in particular, his defensive partner Giorgio Chiellini.

"They whistled the anthem. They thought they had brought it home," Bonucci told Radio RAI 1.

"This, to me and the old man there [Chiellini] did nothing but increase our motivation. It was a personal satisfaction for me and Giorgio, who have not always been getting the praise we deserved."

 

Italy paraded the trophy in an open-top bus tour on Monday and Bonucci dedicated the win to those who had lost loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic, with Italy one of the worst-hit nations in Europe.

He also paid tribute to Azzurri legend Paolo Rossi, who died from lung cancer in December last year.

"The dedication goes to those who left us in this year and a half," he added.

"Among so many champions, as done for Davide Astori, I want to make a special dedication to Paolo Rossi, a great man.

"The cup is for him and the Italians who have suffered."

Gianluigi Donnarumma ultimately proved Italy's hero in London, as he kept out Bukayo Saka's penalty to seal victory.

Had the England youngster scored, the shoot-out would have gone to sudden death, with Jordan Pickford having previously denied Jorginho.

However, the midfielder joked that his miss was a deliberate ploy to enable Donnarumma – named UEFA's Player of the Tournament – would get the glory.

"It was all planned. I knew that Donnarumma would have saved it," Jorginho quipped in an interview with SportTV. 

"I always give everything I have for the team, but unfortunately, sometimes it's not enough.

"I ended up missing the penalty, and in that moment the world collapsed around me, because I wanted to hand Italy the win. Luckily, we have this phenomenon in goal that saved me."

The 719 minutes racked up by Donnarumma was the most by any player at Euro 2020; he missed only the closing stages of Italy's win against Wales in the group stage and also helped the Azzurri to a penalty shoot-out win over Spain in the semi-finals.

In fact, of the five shoot-outs he has been involved in so far in his career for club and country, Donnarumma – who is set to join Paris Saint-Germain – has always finished on the winning side.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the biggest omission as UEFA named the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament.

Five players from competition winners Italy made the best XI announced on Tuesday, though there was no place for Golden Boot winner Ronaldo.

The Portugal forward scored five times, as did the Czech Republic's Patrik Schick, but Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku got the nod in a front three with Federico Chiesa and Raheem Sterling.

Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire were the other England representatives in the team.

But there was no place for fellow defender Luke Shaw, who scored in the final to cap a fine tournament, or his Manchester United team-mate Paul Pogba, one of the tournament's stars before France's elimination in the last 16.

Player of the tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma was joined by Italy quartet Leonardo Bonucci, Leonardo Spinazzola, Jorginho and Chiesa.

However, midfield star Marco Verratti missed out despite some influential performances in the knockout stages.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Pedri were the sole representatives for Denmark and Spain respectively, both teams having gone out in the semi-finals.

Lukaku also edged out Harry Kane, Karim Benzema and Emil Forsberg, who all ended up with the same goal tally (four) as the Inter forward.

 

The best players to miss out

Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer enjoyed an incredible tournament, saving a Kylian Mbappe penalty in his side's shoot-out win against France in the last 16.

He made a tournament-high 21 saves in total, 10 of those coming in the eventual defeat to Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Denzel Dumfries saw his reputation enhanced during Euro 2020, even if the Netherlands were sent packing by the Czech Republic at the last-16 stage.

He became just the second ever Netherlands player, after Ruud van Nistelrooy, to score in his first two European Championship appearances, while also helping his side to a couple of clean sheets in his four outings.

Bonucci and Maguire earning selection meant their centre-back colleagues Giorgio Chiellini and John Stones narrowly missed out despite playing crucial roles.

England conceded just two goals all tournament, with only one of those coming in open play. A large part of that was down to ever-present defender Stones, who won 20 aerial challenges – the joint-second most of any defender in the competition, one behind Maguire.

Shaw was left out for England's opening game against Croatia, but the full-back soon made himself a consistent presence. He was even compared to the great Roberto Carlos after starring with two assists against Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

The Manchester United defender provided three assists in total and netted the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final with his volley against Italy. Those four goal involvements were bettered only by Schick (five) and Ronaldo (six).

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Verratti was a major fitness doubt for the tournament and sat out Italy's first two matches, but made an emormous impact in the following five games.

Since his first game against Wales on June 20, all-rounder Verratti ranked first among all midfielders at Euro 2020 for chances created (14), passes completed (388), progressive carries (59), tackles (18) and recoveries of possession (37).

 

Pogba likely paid the price for his team's exit rather than his own displays. 

He scored a stunning goal against Switzerland after getting two assists in the 2-2 group-stage draw with Portugal, and his supreme link-up play with Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Benzema was among the highlights of the early weeks of the tournament.

Schick not only scored the joint-most goals, but he was responsible for surely the most memorable one of the lot - a 49.7-yard lob against Scotland, the furthest ever distance a goal has been scored at a European Championships.

The Bayer Leverkusen forward found the net in all but one of his side's games, with three of his goals coming from open play, compared to just two for Ronaldo.

Even though it was far from a vintage tournament for Ronaldo and dethroned champions Portugal, the Juventus superstar still claimed the Golden Boot accolade thanks to having one assist more than fellow five-goal forward Schick.

Ronaldo's 72 minutes per goal was the best return of any player to have played at least three times in the tournament. 

His haul also moved him level with Iran great Ali Daei as the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football with 109, a record that he will get a chance to break later this year.

 

UEFA's Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy); Kyle Walker (England), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), Harry Maguire (England), Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy); Jorginho (Italy), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Pedri (Spain); Federico Chiesa (Italy), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Raheem Sterling (England).

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.