Marco Verratti is a great player for Italy even though he looks “small and tiny”, says coach Roberto Mancini.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder came up with a late winner to down Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.
Lorenzo Insigne volleyed a stunning equaliser to cancel out Edin Dzeko’s opener with the Napoli forward then setting up Verratti to snatch the points.
Italy have won all four of their matches in Group J with Mancini singling out Verratti for praise despite the diminutive midfielder’s lack of height.
“Verratti is a great player, even if he looks small and tiny,” Mancini told a news conference of the 26-year-old, who scored his third international goal.
“I’m happy but we’ll lose one day because you can’t always win. Verratti and Jorginho are very similar and they both have quality and class.
“But they are also helped by defenders as [Leonardo] Bonucci and [Giorgio] Chiellini always make good pressure on the opponents. All my players are very good.
“This is a very good Italy. We were in a really bad moment but now we are playing really nice football with great personality. We need to keep going like this to be considered one of the favourites in Euro 2020.”
Dzeko’s opener was the first goal Italy have conceded since October with Mancini impressed by the Azzurri’s battling spirit as they came from behind.
“We are improving. It was not easy to come back against Bosnia because they have great players,” he said.
“During the first half we could make more pressure on Bosnia but we did not. We were struggling a bit, but I think it’s normal because we played just three days ago [a 3-0 away win over Greece].
“Bosnia played a wonderful game, but we knew it even before the game. They were unlucky against Finland [losing 2-0 on Saturday].
“We knew that this could be the most difficult game of the group. [Miralem] Pjanic and Dzeko played very well, we knew it.
“But we came back at the end and I’m happy for that because we showed great personality. We always try to score and that’s positive.”
Italy, who failed to qualify for the last World Cup, return to action with an away double-header against Armenia and Finland in September.