Roberto Mancini was full of praise for Giorgio Chiellini after the defender’s impressive return in Italy’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands.
After a bizarre glasses-based mishap led Mancini to accidentally leave him out against Bosnia & Herzegovina last week, Chiellini ended a year-long wait to play for Italy again on Monday night.
The 36-year-old, who hadn’t played for the Azzurri since June 2019, delivered an excellent performance. His experience showed on the night by thwarting attacks from the Netherlands through some well-timed interventions.
It was a welcome return for Chiellini, who made just four appearances for Juventus in 2019/20 after undergoing an operation on a torn anterior cruciate ligament last September.
“He has the experience, quality… he could still teach many defenders around the world,” said Mancini as quoted on BeSoccer.
“It’s important for us to have him on the pitch because he is a fighter. I’m happy he is back and that he managed to play without problems.”
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2020) September 7, 2020
Chiellini added to Rai Sport: “I did miss playing on a ‘big’ pitch, as the training ground turf is never quite as large, so it takes a while to get the hang of the distances and I missed the tension of a real game. I’m happy to be back.”
A first-half header from Nicolo Barella was enough to seal a crucial 1-0 win for Italy in Amsterdam, moving them on top of Group A1 in the UEFA Nations League.
Despite restricting the Netherlands to just two shots on target, there quite a few close calls. Especially when Donny van de Beek fired in a half-volley, which forced Gianluigi Donnarumma to pull off a fine save.