Italy win football’s most pointless game! Nicolo Barella scores impressive volley and Domenico Berardi nets a penalty as Belgium are sunk in Nations League third place play-off
- Nicolo Barella and Domenico Berardi scored as Italy won 2-1 against Belgium
- Barella opened the scoring with a volley and Berardi converted a penalty
- Substitute Charles De Ketelaere managed to get a late goal back for Belgium
- Belgium hit the crossbar twice but Italy still managed to secure victory
Nicolo Barella and Domenico Berardi scored as Italy beat Belgium 2-1 in the Nations League third place play-off in Turin.
After a goalless first half, Barella put Italy ahead in the early stages of a the second period with a sweetly struck volley. Berardi added a penalty to double the lead for Roberto Mancini’s team.
Belgium caused a scare for Italy late on as Charles De Ketelaere got a goal back, but Italy held on to secure victory.
Nicolo Barella celebrates after his goal put Italy in the lead during their clash with Belgium
Barella scored a sweetly-struck volley in the early stages of the second half to open the scoring
Domenico Berardi slotted home a penalty in the 65th minute to make it 2-0 to Italy
Belgium struck the crossbar in each half, first through Alexis Saelemaekers and then Michy Batshuayi, and Yannick Carrasco hit the post.
Both teams contained talented players but some key individuals were named on the bench, such as Jorginho for Italy and Kevin De Bruyne for Belgium.
Italy lost to Spain in the semi-finals as their 37-game unbeaten run came to an end, while Belgium were beaten by France in an enthralling encounter.
Mancini’s side started very brightly, with the highly regarded Federico Chiesa having a shot blocked before shooting over the crossbar shortly afterwards.
Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois got a touch to the ball but he couldn’t keep it out
The Italy players were delighted after taking the lead in the Nations League play off semi-final
Substitute Charles De Ketelaere managed to get a goal back for Belgium in the closing stages
De Ketelaere celebrates scoring his first international goal for Belgium with Kevin de Bruyne
Belgium were without star striker Romelu Lukaku due to muscle fatigue, so Michy Batshuayi started up front and he had his side’s first opportunity of the game in the eighth minute but shot over.
Italy continued to pose a bigger threat, with Giacomo Raspadori causing problems for the Belgium defence.
Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Bastoni, Emerson; Barella (Cristante 70), Locatelli, Pellegrini (Jorginho 71); Berardi (Insigne 90), Raspadori (Kean 65), Chiesa (Bernadeschi 90)
Subs: Sirigu, Dimarco, Chiellini, Meret, Verratti,
Goals: Barella 46, Berardi 65 (pen)
Booked: Di Lorenzo, Emerson
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne, Witsel, Tielemans (De Bruyne 59), Vanaken; Saelemaekers (De Ketelaere 59), Batshuayi, Carrasco
Subs: Casteels, Lukebakio, Dendoncker, Boyata, Trossard, Theate, Mignolet
Goal: De Ketelaere 86
Booked: Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Witsel
However, Alexis Saelemaekers then proceeded to strike the crossbar for Belgium.
On one occasion Hans Vanaken had to be alert to track back and make an important interception to cut out an Italy attack.
Chiesa then threatened again but his effort went well wide. The winger then had an effort denied by Thibaut Courtois, who managed to deflect the ball wide with his boot.
After a goalless first half, the deadlock was broken just a minute into the second half, with Barella scoring with an emphatic strike.
Italy threatened to add to their lead, with Courtois having to be alert to make an intervention.
Belgium then brought on De Bruyne for Tielemans, while De Ketelaere entered the fray in place of Saelemaekers.
De Ketelaere got on the ball straight away and threaded a pass into the path of Batshuayi, who hit the crossbar.
However, Belgium’s hopes of a comeback were hindered when Italy were awarded a penalty when Timothy Castagne fouled Chiesa in the area.
Domenico Berardi stepped up to take the spot-kick and managed to convert, despite Courtois getting a hand to the ball.
Belgium refused to give up, with Gianluigi Donnarumma failing to hold the ball on one occasion before redeeming himself with a smart stop to thwart Toby Alderweireld.
Alderweireld went for goal again but Donnarumma was again equal to it.
Carrasco then struck the post and Belgium continued to threaten.
They were eventually rewarded for their persistence as De Ketelaere got his first international goal as he reduced the deficit having been found by De Bruyne, with Courtois having initiated the move.
Belgium looked to get an equaliser and send the game to a penalty shoot-out but Italy managed to hold on.
Michy Batshuayi goes for goal for Belgium in the first half but his effort went over the crossbar
Alexis Saelemaekers of Belgium struck the crossbar with an effort in the first half in Turin
Federico Chiesa started brightly for Italy and caused problems for the Belgium defence