Mancini satisfied with Italy's display against Spain despite record run coming to an end
Spain edged past Italy to seal a place in the 2021 Nations League final, but Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini was not too hard on his players.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini was pleased with his side's display against Spain on Wednesday despite a 1-2 defeat ending their world-record 37-game unbeaten run.
Spain booked their place in Sunday's Nations League final thanks to two Ferran Torres strikes before half-time. The Azzurri's cause was not helped by Leonardo Bonucci receiving a second yellow card in between the Manchester City forward's double. Lorenzo Pellegrini halved the deficit seven minutes from full-time, but Luis Enrique's men held firm to set up a clash with either France or Belgium in Sunday's decider.
Mancini takes defeat on the chin
While disappointed that his side's superb unbeaten run was over, Mancini was not too hard on his players. "Games are like this, sometimes incidents change them. The first half could easily have ended 1-1," the Italian told RAI Sport. "Clearly, Spain keep the ball well, but it's disappointing to lose like this, down to 10. We made a mistake that we should not be making at this level. To be honest, I didn't see the second card, but that's not the point. Leo should not have got himself booked in either situation. Playing like this, scoring a goal and not conceding more when down to 10 men was a good performance. We needed some fresh legs and that helped when down to 10 men. We could've used some younger players, but I think that despite the defeat, this performance gave us strength."
The result was only the second time Italy have conceded more than one goal in a single match under Mancini's guidance, the previous such occasion a 3-1 defeat to France in June 2018.
Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini echoed Mancini's sentiments and believes the defeat will make them stronger. "It's a pity the defeat came in Milan, but there is pride for this extraordinary run of results," the Juventus defender said. "It's a necessary stage in the growth process for a team that can still do far better. We knew it was a difficult match, we called for patience and clear minds, and sometimes you have to accept the opposition is a very strong team that causes you problems. It's a pity, we wanted to continue this unbeaten run, but the fact is this will help our growth process. We almost got it back on level terms when down to 10 men and 2-0 down, so that shows what we’re capable of."