March 23 (Reuters) – Italy’s showing against England showed plenty of promise for the future even though the reigning champions kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 home defeat on Thursday, coach Roberto Mancini said on Thursday.
Italy were already trailing 2-0 in the Group C encounter in Naples by the time debutant Mateo Retegui reduced the deficit 11 minutes into the second half.
“We had started well with a high press, which we didn’t do for the rest of the first half. I saw a great Italian team in the second half and that bodes well for the future,” Mancini told RAI sport.
Mancini said that Gareth Southgate’s side were superior on the set pieces, which helped England to secure their first win over the Azzurri on Italian soil for 62 years despite having Luke Shaw sent off.
“England are dangerous on set plays, we allowed the first (goal) I think due to a distraction, then the penalty was also from a corner. I think we deserved to score at least another goal after the break,” Mancini said.
“We might have started by facing an uphill struggle this time but hope to end it smoother.”
Although Retegui’s goal stood out for Mancini, he was confident that the 23-year-old Club Atletico Tigre player would keep on improving.
“He had difficulties in the first half as the England defenders are physically strong and limited him. He moved better after the break, but he is young, he plays his football in Argentina, so he needs time,” Mancini said.
Italy will travel to Malta for their next Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday.
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