Italy finished third at Nations League after playoff win against Belgium

Italy finished third at Nations League after playoff win against Belgium

Euro 2020 champions Italy finished third in the UEFA Nations League after beating Belgium 2-1 in an exciting play-off at the Allianz Arena in Turin. Nicolò Barella and Domenico Berardi’s goals helped the team bounce back from its first loss in the more than three years.  Roberto Mancini’s Italy settled in the third place after failing to seal a spot in the final, with Spain ending their record unbeaten run.

After a very slow and goalless first half, Barella opened the scoring with a beautiful volley one minute into the second half before Berardi added the second from the spot in the 65th minute. It was Barella’s first goal for Italy since scoring in the 2-1 win over Belgium in the Euro 2020 quarterfinals. The Belgians scored a consolation through Charles De Ketelaere, who netted a goal with four minutes remaining.

“Trying something new means giving some other players a chance to prove their worth. We are on a beautiful journey and we must continue on it as long as possible. We have young guys who could be playing together for another five or six years,” Mancini told UEFA after the game. The Azzurri headed to this match with a painful loss in the semifinal after 37-game unbeaten run.

Belgium headed to the match without their key players like Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Thomas Foket after sustaining injuries. “We want to take this unique opportunity to face the champions of Europe and test our abilities again. We have shown against France that we are capable of,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.

Meanwhile, in the final round, World Champions France beat Spain to clinch the UEFA Nations League title, winning against Spain 2-1 from behind through a classic Kylian Mbappe winner. France are now unbeaten in the last 25 competitive games. The biennial UEFA event commenced in 2019 and Portugal was the first winner of the inaugural competition.

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