Italy and Bosnia Herzegovina shared the spoils in their Group 1 opener in Florence.
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Italy's 11-game winning streak came to an end as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Florence.
Match in brief
After a subdued first half, Armin Hodžić and Lorenzo Insigne – who had scored in each of Italy's last two meetings with these opponents – were both denied by the woodwork in quick succession soon after the interval.
Only two minutes after those near-misses, the visitors did take the lead. Long-time Serie A striker and Bosnia and Herzegovina talisman Edin Džeko broke the deadlock, firing in from close range for international goal No59.
An action-packed third quarter of the game was capped off midway through the second half when Stefano Sensi's deflected effort drew the hosts level. Substitute Muhamed Bešić could have won it for the visitors late on but rolled narrowly wide.
View from the stadium: Paolo Menicucci, Italy reporter
Bosnia and Herzegovina controlled a somewhat predictable Italy for more than an hour and took the lead through Džeko, who played fantastically on Dušan Bajević's debut as coach. Sometimes you need a shock to wake up and that is exactly how it panned out for the hosts.
Short of space and ideas in the first half, the Azzurri reacted well after Džeko’s goal and found the equaliser through Sensi but were unable to eke out a second to extend their record streak of 11 consecutive wins and were forced to settle for a draw.
Feda Krvavac, Bosnia and Herzegovina reporter
This was a competitive encounter despite neither side quite being at their peak. Italy had the better of the first-half possession but the match sprang into life when Hodžić and Insigne both hit the woodwork in quick succession, providing an overture to Džeko's opener and Sensi's equaliser. The second half was very open, with Bajević's team resisting Italy's pressure to earn an important and unexpected point in Florence.
Stefano Sensi, Italy goalscorer: "I am happy for my goal, but not with the result. We could've done better and been more determined. We knew that Bosnia would sit back and defend to hit us on the counter. It was difficult for us to find space because we moved the ball too slowly."
Leonardo Bonucci, Italy captain: "It was not easy to find space because our opponents sat back and waited to hit us on the counterattack. We created chances but were not patient enough with ball. We needed to circulate it better and go down the wings."
Edin Džeko, Bosnia and Herzegovina captain: "I always love scoring goals, not just today. It’s always a pleasure to play against Italy and at least we got some pride back after the two defeats last year."
Edin Višća, Bosnia and Herzegovina winger: "It's a big point. We played really well, followed the game plan for 90 minutes. The new coach has brought a freshness into the camp and this is a new beginning for Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were disciplined, compact and in Edin Džeko we have a striker who can score against anyone if we can create opportunities."
- Italy had won 11 games in a row prior to this.
- The Azzurri are now unbeaten in 21 home matches.
- Nineteen of Italy's last 27 goals have been scored in the second half.
- Italy have not conceded more than one goal in any of their last 18 matches.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina had lost five of their last eight matches before holding Italy.
- The visitors had kept a clean sheet in their last three Nations League fixtures.
Italy: Donnarumma; Florenzi, Bonucci, Acerbi, Biraghi; Pellegrini (Kean 86), Sensi, Barella; Chiesa (Zaniolo 72), Belotti (Immobile 73), Insigne
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Šehić; Cipetić, Šunjić, Saničanin, Kolašinac (Ćivić 83); Cimirot, Hadžiahmetović, Gojak; Višća (Milošević 86), Džeko, Hodžić (Bešić 77)