Italy extend unbeaten run to reach NL finals

Italy extend unbeaten run to reach NL finals
Italy’s Andrea Belotti celebrates after scoring the opening goal. (Reuters)
ROME, LEUVEN, LONDON, NOV 19 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/19/2020 1:03:49 PM 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.

Lukaku double sends Belgium into final 4

Romelu Lukaku underlined his status as Belgium’s key attacker with two goals to help his team book their place in next year’s Nations League finals with a 4-2 home victory over Denmark on Wednesday.

Lukaku extended his record scoring form for his country with a second-half double as Youri Tielemans and Kevin De Bruyne also netted for Belgium.

Denmark scored through Jonas Wind after 17 minutes, heading home from close range, and Belgium gifted them a second with a comical own goal credited to Nacer Chadli four minutes from time.

Belgium finished five points clear at the top of League A Group 2 and will meet world champions France and former World Cup winners Italy and Spain in the final four next October.

Eng ease to 4-0 win over 10-man 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.

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