LONDON: Italy needed to fight until the extra time to see off their last-16 opponents Austria 2-1 at the European Championship in London.
Italy won all three group matches to advance into the last-16 round comfortably without conceding a goal. They travelled to London to take on Austria, who reached the knockout phase of the competition for the first time.
Since the start of the match on Saturday, the Azzurri launched attacks one after another. They could easily push to the front especially from the left flank with an active left defender Leonardo Spinazzola, but failed to score when facing the tough Austrian defence.
Their best chance in the first half came in the 32nd minute when Ciro Immobile's curved long shot hit the left top corner of the woodwork.
After the interval, Austria threatened more often in the box while the Italian players showed signs of impatience.
In the 65th minute, Bayern Munich's David Alaba headed the ball across the box and Marko Arnautovic nodded it in from close range. But a lengthy VAR check ruled out the goal for offside.
A scoreless tie in the regular time saw the game at Wembley go into extra time. Italy made the breakthrough soon as late substitute Federico Chiesa swept home an acute-angled shot near the post in the 95th minute.
Ten minutes later, Matteo Pessina added a second for Italy while Austria pulled one back with Sasa Kalajdzic's header in the closing stages.
Italy will face the winner of the match between defending champions Portugal and Belgium in the quarterfinals. IANS