The stalemate was broken in the 95th minute when substitute Federico Chiesa hit a nice left-footed strike into the lower left corner before substitute Matteo Pessina found the other corner in the 105th minute to extend the lead of the Azzurri.
A deft header from Austria’s Sasa Kalajdzic cut the deficit in half, but that was not enough as the Italians remained confident and calm and continue to impress.
Saturday’s victory at Wembley Stadium in London also means Italy have now won their last 12 games in a row.
Italy now qualifies for the quarter-finals where they will face the winner of Belgium No. 1 or Portugal, reigning champions.
Both teams will be the biggest challenge the Italians have faced so far in this tournament, the last time they lost a game against Portugal in September 2018.
Like in Rome
Despite the reduced seating capacity at Wembley, the roar of Azzurri fans as the players emerged and the passionate signing of the national anthem was as if the team were playing in Rome.
Due to current guidelines, arrivals from Italy cannot travel to the UK without undergoing a mandatory quarantine period.
But despite the game which took place in London, Roberto Mancini’s side surely would have felt like playing in front of a local crowd.
Austria were playing their first-ever European Championships knockout game in their third tournament appearance.
It was also the first major tournament in which Austria has progressed beyond the initial group stage since the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain.
The lack of experience at this point did not manifest itself in the first 90 minutes as Austria executed a decisive tactical plan, defending well and seizing their opportunities on the counterattack.
Forward Ciro Immobile moved closer to Italy in the first half, hitting the post from outside the box with a thunderous strike.
Austria came close to securing an unlikely victory in the 65th minute, but Marko Arnautovic’s header was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside.
However, in extra time the speed and intensity of the Italians was too much for Austria to contain.
Austria goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann did all he could to keep his team within striking distance of the quarter-finals, but found himself helpless with the Italians’ two near-perfect strikes.
It was two substitutes who wreaked havoc for Italy with Chiesa’s left-footed strike breaking the deadlock late in the game, before Pessina extended the lead with his own left foot.
Pessina was a late addition to the Italian squad following the withdrawal of injured Stefano Sensi and has now scored two goals in two matches in the tournament.
Kalajdzic’s late header was mere consolation for the Austrians, but was the first goal the Italians conceded at Euro 2020.
In the end, it was a heartbreak for Austria who exceeded expectations and will return home with their heads held high.
“Now it’s a matter of saving that when we come back in September. You saw that the team was hungry and had a good frame of mind and a good plan. From September we have to prepare as well as possible because we want to go to [FIFA] World Cup in Qatar. “
Italy continue to prove to their opponents why they are a candidate to win the tournament and win their first European crown since 1968.
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