Striker Ciro Immobile was a relieved man after finally ending his two-year Italy goal-drought during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Finland.
Immobile is one of the Serie A’s most renown scorers following a prolific three years at Lazio, which has seen him score 87 goals in just 135 appearances. Things on the international front for Italy, though, have been a completely different story.
The 29-year-old hadn’t found the back of the net since a World Cup qualifier against Isreal in September 2017. Therefore, he only featured in half of Italy’s 20 matches since then, and likely feared for his international future.
But Immobile finally ended his Azzuri nightmare by heading in a 59th-minute opener at Finland on Sunday.
Naturally, the Lazio striker was overcome with emotion to have finally ended his barren run in front of goal.
Despite Teemu Pukki’s penalty pegging one back for Finland, Jorginho scored a 79th-minute spot-kick of his own to maintain Italy’s 100 per cent winning record in Group J after six matches.
However, the night belonged to Immobile who opened up on how his barren spell weighed him down.
“It was weighing on me so much, not scoring with this jersey,” Immobile told Rai Sport.
“So much has been said over the last two years, but I was calm and knew my moment would come.
“People always tried to cause controversy around me, including with the coach, but there was no issue there.
“It wasn’t easy to get a victory here, but after the disappointment of [failing to qualify for] the World Cup, we are back on track with Italy.”
Not everyone in the Italy camp was happy, though, as manager Roberto Mancini felt his players created problems for themselves, and need to retain possession better.
“There was a little bit of suffering, but we created it ourselves,” the head coach told Rai Sport.
“We were dominating the game and gave away the ball cheaply. The team did very well overall, although we had a few scares when it was 1-1.
“We must try to improve; these games are tough and make us stronger. It’s positive to dominate away from home when making five changes from the last match, so we have a lot of talent to draw from.
“Our intention is to always attack. Naturally, that means you’re going to allow a few chances. We gave away the penalty on a ball that we shouldn’t have misplaced, so they put some pressure on, but we got back in front so it was a good performance.”
Italy will return to action on October 12 for another Euro 2020 qualifier against Greece in Rome.