Nations League: Italy extend unbeaten run, wins for England and Netherlands
A collective wrap from the latest round of matches of the 2020 EUFA Nations League.Updated: Nov 19, 2020, 10:12 IST
Italy gave another impressive performance as they reached the Nations League final four and extended their unbeaten run to 22 games with a 2-0 win away to Bosnia on Wednesday. Andrea Belotti broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute and Domenico Berardi added the second with a magnificent volley midway through the second half as Italy topped Group A1 with 12 points from six games.
Italy were again missing coach Roberto Mancini after he tested positive for COVID-19 as well as a number of key players including injured defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, and forward Ciro Immobile over a COVID-19 related issue.
Bosnia, already relegated, were without Ibrahim Sehic, Sead Kolasinac and Edin Dzeko after they tested positive for COVID-19. “The coach wants us to play our football wherever we go and that is the mentality we’ve really taken in,” said Italy winger Lorenzo Insigne. “This shirt has to be honoured every time and we give our all for Italy.”
Italy’s biggest fault was a failure to take their chances and Belotti had squandered two before putting them ahead. Insigne, who curled a shot against the post late in the first half, was in inspired form and set up the goal with an outswinging cross which the player known as the Rooster converted despite not making proper contact.
The second goal was a masterpiece as Manuel Locatelli lifted the ball over the Bosnia defence and his Sassuolo team mate Berardi met it on the volley as the ball dropped over his shoulder and hooked it into the net. Federico Bernardeschi smashed a late shot against the crossbar as Italy cruised home.
England thump Iceland
Phil Foden scored twice as England eased to a routine 4-0 win over 10-man Iceland on Wednesday as both sides wrapped up their UEFA Nations League campaigns in Group A2 with only pride to play for.
England took control when West Ham United’s Declan Rice glanced in a header from a free kick on 20 minutes and the lead was doubled four minutes later when Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount pounced on a bouncing ball in the box to finish calmly.
The second half started badly for Iceland when Birkir Mar Saevarsson, who was playing his 95th game for his country, was sent off for a second yellow card. Manchester City’s 20-year-old midfielder Foden made it 3-0 with 10 minutes to go with his first goal for England and added a long-range effort to make it 4-0.
England had already failed to qualify for the Nations League finals after a 2-0 loss on Sunday to one of the tournament’s favourites Belgium, while Iceland had already been relegated to League B.
England are still haunted by their defeat to Iceland in the 2016 European Championship, but dominated possession and chances throughout on Wednesday without really going through the gears. Rice’s opening goal come from a free kick for a foul on the edge of the box, while Mount allowed the ball to run across his body inside a packed box before slotting a cool finish in the corner.
The game failed to fire in the second half even after the red card on 54 minutes, but eventually picked up pace after a flurry of substitutions. One of the replacements, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, combined with Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka to feed Foden’s debut goal and his second was matched either side by a barrage of shots that were either blocked or fizzed wide.
Iceland, whose manager Erik Hamren was already stepping down following Wednesday’s game, had a couple of chances on the break in the first half but missed probably their best opportunity after the second-half sending off when captain Kari Arnason headed just wide.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s late winner seals Dutch comeback win over Poland
Captain Georginio Wijnaldum scored a late winner as the Netherlands rallied from a goal down to beat Poland 2-1 in Nations League A Group 1 in Chorzow on Wednesday. Kamil Jozwiak scored a scintillating solo goal to put Poland in front early, but Memphis Depay equalised for the visitors from the penalty spot, before Wijnaldum added to his two goals against Bosnia at the weekend to head home the winner.
Italy’s victory in Bosnia meant neither side could top the pool, but the Netherlands finished second with 11 points from six matches, one behind the Italians, with Poland third on seven. The home side made the perfect start with a stunning individual effort from Jozwiak, who was sent into open space by Robert Lewandowski. The winger showed admirable pace to outstrip the defence and beat two defenders before a neat finish past Tim Krul in the Dutch goal.
Wijnaldum should have equalised when his run into the box left him with just Lukasz Fabianski to beat, but the midfielder’s shot was straight at the goalkeeper. The Dutch had an even better chance when Donyell Malen placed his free header from seven yards wide of goal when it seemed easier to score.
Przemyslaw Placheta struck the post from a tight angle as Poland continued to use their pace to get behind the defence in what was a frenetic opening. Fabianski’s fingertips denied Depay in the second half, but the forward blasted home his penalty on 77 minutes after a foul on Wijnaldum by Poland defender Jan Bednarek. The Dutch skipper then netted the winner, heading in Steven Berghuis’s corner to seal back-to-back wins for new coach Frank de Boer.