Leonardo Bonucci insists he wasn’t trying to get Armenia striker Aleksandr Karapetyan sent off. “I already had two stitches from an elbow.”
The Italy and Juventus defender was criticised for going down clutching his face after an aerial collision with Karapetyan, leading to a second yellow card, when replays show there was no real contact.
“These things happen in match situations and I don’t feel the need to apologise,” Bonucci told reporters after the 2-1 win in Finland.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the fact he was already booked. More than anything, I already had two stitches from an elbow and was trying to protect my eyebrow.
“It’s disappointing that this controversy has been created, but I accept it and move on, I do my talking on the pitch. If I’ve reached 91 caps for my country, it means I’ve done my best to help the team.”
The Azzurri have won all six Euro 2020 qualifiers and moved six points clear at the top of Group J after last night’s 2-1 victory in Finland.
“Roberto Mancini deserves a lot of credit for bringing in precise ideas, which he’s helped us to put into practice over the last few months.
“We play exciting football that we too enjoy on the field. It’s natural to allow a few counter-attacks when we have this approach, but we’re enjoying it anyway.
“Every team has its limits and there is always danger around the corner, but we must do well not to give the ball away cheaply. We reacted after the Finnish equaliser and that is the mentality of a great team, one that knows it can continue to play its football even after conceding a goal.
“We’re on the right track, so with effort, sacrifice and following Mancini’s ideas, this Italy team can go far.”