Davide Frattesi ensured that Italy got their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign back on track with a brace in Tuesday’s entertaining 2-1 win over Ukraine which moved the Azzurri second in Group C.
Inter Milan midfielder Frattesi scored twice in the first half-an-hour at the San Siro to give Luciano Spalletti his first success on his home debut as coach of the European champions.
The 22-year-old, who was picked in place of the injured Sandro Tonali, rifled in two low finishes to move Italy level on seven points with Ukraine, who scored through captain Andriy Yarmolenko four minutes before half-time, and North Macedonia.
But Italy occupy the second of two automatic qualifying places on head-to-head record between those three teams, six points behind England who have played a game more.
Tuesday’s win might have had a tight scoreline but there were encouraging signs that Italy were beginning to take on some of Spalletti’s methods.
Apart from a brief period after the break Italy dominated the match with a flowing brand of football reminiscent of the Napoli team Spalletti led to the Serie A title last season.
Missing a clutch of first-choice players including Juventus forward Federico Chiesa, Italy could easily have won by more.
They wasted a host of chances and struck the woodwork through Manuel Locatelli in a display which was worlds away from the dismal 1-1 draw with North Macedonia in Skopje on Saturday.
Next month Italy face Malta in Bari before travelling to Wembley, the site of their thrilling triumph at the last Euro, to take on England.