Mancini: Italy ahead of schedule

Matteo Politano struck in the 94th minute to secure victory in Genk, with Italy coach Roberto Mancini happy with his team's progress.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini   -  Getty Images

Roberto Mancini feels Italy is ahead of schedule despite needing a 94th-minute winner from Matteo Politano to edge past the United States.

Italy struggled in Tuesday's international friendly in Genk until late substitute Politano collected a pass from Inter team-mate Roberto Gagliardini to score deep into added time.

The Azzurri has kept three clean sheets in a row under Mancini but only scored twice in that run, although it has handed opportunities to a batch of young players.

Stefano Sensi started in midfield and impressed Mancini on his international bow, while there were further debuts from the bench for Vincenzo Grifo and Juventus teenager Moise Kean.

And although Italy finished second behind Portugal in its Nations League group, Mancini believes his team are on the right track.

"Sensi did really well, so did Kean and Grifo," Mancini told Rai Sport. "[Francesco] Acerbi and [Mattia] De Sciglio impressed me, too.

"We are in line with where we expected to be at this stage, perhaps doing even better, as the team is playing very well. 

"The Euro 2020 qualifiers are coming up next year, so we have had a few too many draws and defeats lately, here's hoping we get all wins."

Italy could not find a way to beat Ethan Horvath until late on, with Domenico Berardi and Federico Chiesa failing to make the most of their chances.

"It was heading to 0-0 again but that’s football, there’s nothing you can do about it," Mancini added.

"We had so many chances, the important thing is that it was a good performance.

"It was the first time we were playing together, so we couldn't think of playing like the first half for 90 minutes.

"We got a little stretched out as we pushed harder to find the breakthrough."

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