Pessina goal sees the Azzurri top Euros group
|Matteo Pessina has become a star|
of Bergamo's Atalanta team
The 24-year-old midfielder scored the only goal of the match in the 39th minute, maintaining the Azzurri’s 100 per cent success record in Group A, in which they earlier beat Turkey and Switzerland. They have yet to concede a goal in the competition.
The Monza-born player, who was added to Roberto Mancini’s squad only as a late replacement for the injured Stefano Sensi, became the youngest Italy player to score on his debut in a major tournament and made history in two other ways.
He is the first Atalanta player to start a match for the Azzurri in the final tournament of any of the European championships in which they have played and the first representative of the Bergamo team to score for Italy in any major tournament.
In fact, it is 19 years since La Dea had a player selected to represent Italy in a major tournament, the last one being the attacking midfielder Cristiano Doni, who went to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea as part of Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad and started two matches.
Pessina and defender Rafael Tolói, who was also a starter against Wales, are only the sixth and seventh Atalanta players to be named in Italy squads for major tournaments in its history and only the third and fourth to actually wear the Azzurri shirt in action.
Both played key roles in helping La Dea finish third in Serie A in the season just ended. Pessina, who joined Atalanta from AC Milan in 2017 and spent two of his first two seasons with the nerazzurri out on loan, first with La Spezia and then Hellas Verona, was a regular in Gian Piero Gasperini’s team in 2020-21, scoring four goals.
|The German wing back Robin Gosens has|
become one of Atalanta's top players
Other members of Gasperini's multi-national squad to see action in the Euros so far are Joakim Maehle (Denmark), Remo Freuler (Switzerland), Marten de Roon (Netherlands), Ruslan Malinovsky (Ukraine) and Mario Pasalic (Croatia).
After playing for his country at Under-20 and Under-21 level, Pessina made his debut for Italy’s senior team on November 11, 2020, featuring as a substitute in a 4–0 friendly win against Estonia in Florence. He scored his first goals for the Azzurri in a home friendly against San Marino in May, 2021, netting twice in a 7-0 victory.
As winners of Group A, Italy will play the runners-up in Group C in the round of 16 on Saturday, which looks likely to be either Ukraine or Austria, who were scheduled to meet each other in Bucharest this afternoon.