World Cup qualifying: the Azzurre bounce back to beat Romania 5-0 in their final match of 2021Italy put Switzerland defeat behind them to consolidate second place in Group G. Bertolini: “We believe we can secure direct qualification”
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Milena Bertolini’s Italy produced a proud display to beat Romania 5-0 and return to winning ways in World Cup qualifying. At the Stadionul Anghel Iordănescu in Voluntari, the Azzurre picked up their fifth victory in Group G and their eighth success in ten matches in 2021 to finish the year in the best possible fashion. In addition to the result, the Head Coach can be satisfied with her team’s approach to the match, as well as the reaction they displayed following Friday’s defeat to Switzerland. Italy broke the deadlock through Bonansea in the 22nd minute and built on their lead in the second half, during which Girelli bagged a hat-trick (thus reaching 52 National Team goals) and Pirone scored a gem.
Thanks to this win, the Azzurre have consolidated second place in the group, a position that would see them qualify for the play-offs. Now that the minimum objective is within reach, Italy will do everything in their power to try to finish top. The Azzurre will resume their World Cup qualifying journey when they face Lithuania on 8 April 2022, four days before their decisive showdown away to Switzerland, where Gama and Co. will be looking to move above their opponents in the race to secure direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“I’d like to compliment the girls because they approached the match in the best way possible,” said Milena Bertolini. “It wasn’t easy to bounce back, but, despite the difficulties, they showed their worth and took to the pitch with the right attitude. More than team shape, the spirit with which you play these matches is the thing that makes the difference. We can still qualify directly and are aiming to win all our matches.”
The game – Milena Bertolini opted for several changes following Friday’s defeat in Palermo, starting with the formation: with all of Italy’s absences in mind, the Head Coach switched from a 3-4-3 to a 4-4-2. Linari replaced Salvai in the centre of defence, while Soffia was preferred to Bergamaschi at right-back. In midfield, Simonetti made her first Italy start, with Bonansea and Glionna selected on the flanks and ready to supply Giacinti and Girelli up front. Romania Head Coach Dulca sent his team out in a 4-2-3-1 which became a 4-5-1 when they were out of possession. Rus was chosen up top, with Meluță, Ciolacu and Carp aiming to support her in the final third.
Italy started the match in a compact fashion, pressing high and moving the ball around quickly. These were the ingredients required to prove that they’d put the Swiss loss behind them. During the opening stages, the Azzurre were particularly dangerous down the right wing, with Soffia and Glionna providing a constant threat. In the fifth minute, the Roma forward’s pace was at the heart of a move that ended with Girelli tapping into the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside. However, Bertolini’s side continued to push and took the lead in the 22nd minute, when Bonansea escaped her marker and, from the edge of the box, fired into the bottom corner of Părăluță’s goal. With Italy having got themselves in front, the tempo of the game slowed down considerably, allowing the hosts to see out the first half without running any further risks.
Knowing that they had to add to their goal tally, Italy attacked aggressively after the restart. With 53 minutes on the clock, Bonansea went from goalscorer to provider as she set up Girelli to score her 50th National Team goal. Italy’s No.10 was soon celebrating again as, eight minutes later, she got on the end of Boattin’s corner and made it 3-0 with her head. The Romanians had their first chance after 70 minutes, when Giugliani remained alert to parry away Carp’s first-time strike. In the closing stages, in addition to various substitutions, there was room for a brilliant goal from Pirone, who controlled the ball with her chest and deliciously lobbed the ball over Părăluță. The scoring wasn’t over, however, as Girelli netted from the penalty spot in added time. Despite all the difficulties, the strength of the collective was on show, with Italy ready to fight hard for a World Cup spot.
ROMANIA 0-5 ITALY
GOALS: 22’ Bonansea, 53’, 61’ and 94’ Girelli, 87’ Pirone
ROMANIA (4-2-3-1): Părăluță; Corduneanu (69’ Herczeg), Oprea, Ficzay, Gered; Bortan (83’ Marcu), Vătafu; Carp (83’ Ambruș), Meluță, Ciolacu; Rus (56’ Balaceanu). Subs: Campean, Boandâ, Tunoaia, Tatar, Bâtea, Goder, Sandu, Bistrian. Ct: Dulca
ITALY (4-4-2): Giuliani; Soffia, Gama (66’ Salvai), Linari, Boattin; Glionna, Giugliano (76’ Cinotti), Simonetti, Bonansea (89’ Serturini); Giacinti (66’ Pirone), Girelli. Subs: Durante, Schroffenegger, Bergamaschi, Lenzini, Merlo, Pandini, Bonfantini. Ct: Bertolini
REFEREE: Campos (POR). Assistants: Almeida (POR) and Santos (POR). Fourth Official: Gama (POR)
NOTE: Simonetti and Corduneanu booked
Croatia 4-0 Moldova
Romania 0-5 ITALY
Lithuania 0-7 Switzerland