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LONDON — With three exquisite touches of control, technique and finishing, Federico Chiesa ended 95 minutes of Italian frustration.
This record-breaking team is off to the quarterfinals of the European Championship with a defense that finally allowed a goal after more than 19 hours but with a national team-record 12th straight victory.
After breezing through the group stage at Euro 2020, Italy was made to fight for its 2-1 victory over Austria on Saturday in a last-16 game that came to life in extra time.
It was Roberto Mancini’s substitutes who made the difference with the goals at Wembley Stadium.
An unmarked Chiesa brought down Leonardo Spinazzola’s high cross with his head, controlled the bouncing ball with his right boot and then used his other foot to shoot low into the net.
Just like his father Enrico Chiesa, who scored for Italy 25 years ago when the European Championship was last staged in England.
Individual skill produced the breakthrough for Italy. The second was more about calmness in a goalmouth scramble. Matteo Pessina, who came on midway through the second half, sent the ball into the far corner of the net in the 115th minute.
The raw emotion erupted as teammates collapsed on Pessina, a late injury replacement in the squad, amid the celebrations.
Italy was also celebrating in extra time after setting a world record for minutes played without conceding a goal in international soccer. The previous record was also Italy’s and was set with goalkeeper Dino Zoff in the team. The Italians went 1,143 minutes between 1972 and 1974 without allowing a goal.
But Italy soon conceded for the first time in 1,168 minutes, from a set piece in the 114th minute when Sasa Kalajdzic headed the ball in from a corner.
The Austrian comeback ended there, however, and Italy held on for its 31st straight unbeaten match — another national team record.
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Rob Harris, The Associated Press