TURIN, Italy, June 12, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti hit back with second-half goals as Italy came from behind to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 to extend their perfect run in Euro 2020 qualifying to four games in Turin on Tuesday.
Roma forward Edin Dzeko had fired Bosnia ahead after 32 minutes at the Juventus Stadium as the hosts conceded their first goal of the European qualifying campaign.
But Insigne hit back after the break with a stunning volley and the Napoli captain then set up Verratti for the winner four minutes from time.
Roberto Mancini’s side are top of Group J with a maximum 12 points after four games with 13 goals scored and just one conceded.
And the former Manchester City and Inter Milan coach said he had been impressed by the character his side showed to come back.
“I expected the difficulties, but we showed the strength and the conviction to overturn it,” said Mancini.
“The important thing is that we are first in the group, I don’t look at the other teams.
“We want to put ourselves in the best position to have a real chance in Euro 2020,” said Mancini ahead of the tournament which kicks off in Rome on June 12 next year.
“The outcome remains very positive, today we have taken a step forward from the point of view of character despite the suffering.”
Italy are three points ahead of second-placed Finland with Armenia third, followed by Bosnia and Greece who are eight points adrift.
“We were a bit too stretched out in the first half, perhaps a bit tired, but we improved after the break.
“It’s not easy to turn a game like this around and we gave everything, especially character,” added Mancini, who took over after Italy’s failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup in Russia.
– Bosnia regrets –
Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who was suspended for Bosnia’s 2-0 defeat against Finland, returned to suffer a rare defeat at his club ground.
The visitors piled on the pressure early with Dzeko on hand to tap in an Edin Visca cross across the goalmouth.
The 33-year-old ended Italy’s run of six straight games without conceding a goal going back to last October.
“We deserved a draw but Italy had more energy than us in the second half,” said Dzeko. “My biggest regret is that we did not manage to score the second when we had the chances to do so.
“We still hope to qualify but we played a bad game against Finland and those points could be costly ones dropped for us.”
Italy veteran Fabio Quagliarella, the top Serie A scorer this season, was denied an equaliser with Bosnia ‘keeper Ibrahim Sehic deflecting with his fingertips.
Federico Chiesa replaced Quagliarella after the interval with Insigne breaking through after 49 minutes from a Federico Bernardeschi corner.
Sehic did well to clear an Insigne header on 69 minutes, with the Bosnia stopper also denying captain Giorgio Chiellini.
Verratti though eventually struck the winner from 15 yards after good work from Insigne, to keep Italy firmly on course for Euro 2020.
“We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves,” said Verratti.
“We’ve achieved nothing, we are Italy and can’t just consider ourselves phenomenons after winning a couple of games. We’ve got to do more.”
Italy next play Armenia on September 5 with Bosnia hosting Liechtenstein.