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World Cup 2022

‘We have a long road ahead of us’ – Mancini

Roberto Mancini says Italy have a “long road ahead” of them despite a much-improved display in a 1-1 Nations League draw with Germany on Saturday.

The Azzurri were beaten 3-0 by Argentina in Wednesday’s Finalissima – a meeting between the European champions and Copa America winners – but they delivered a bright performance against Hansi Flick’s side in Bologna.

Lorenzo Pellegrini put them ahead in the 70th minute, although Die Mannschaft sealed a point three minutes later when Joshua Kimmich powered home.

Despite an improved showing, Italy have still won just one of their last six games.

And Mancini urged players and supporters alike not to get carried away.

He told RAI Sport:

“One result changes nothing, we’ve got a very long road ahead of us.

“The lads did really well. It’s not easy as Germany are one of the best sides in the world right now.

“We were a little hesitant at the start, then slowly started to play. It’s a pity we conceded the equaliser straight after. We were naive because it was not an easy game, especially at the start.

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'We have a long road ahead of us' – Mancini

“It was the first time they [the players] played together, they did a great job. They suffered when they had to and attacked when they had to.

“The lads did really well. They played at the same level as what is a great national team at this moment.”

Pellegrini’s goal was created by substitute Wilfried Gnonto, who became the first player born after January 1, 2003 to play for Italy.

The FC Zurich forward looked at home on the international stage.

And he said the past week has been a whirlwind for him.

“It was a strange and exhilarating week,” he said. “The coach gave me a chance and I think I made the most of it.

“It’s all going so fast. I just try to enjoy the moment and every training session because being here is a privilege.”

Speaking about his excellent cross for the goal, the 18-year-old added: “I knew [Thilo] Kehrer was already booked, so when I got the ball I didn’t think of anything other than taking him on.

“I was determined to get past him and the ball from that angle is the toughest for a goalkeeper and defender to deal with. If you are a striker, you need to make the difference and I did that tonight.”

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'We have a long road ahead of us' – Mancini

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