After WCup failure, Italy starts Nations League with a draw
ROME (AP) — Ten months after failing to qualify for the World Cup, Italy still doesn’t look World Cup-worthy.
“We made a few too many mistakes when playing out from the back and that gave Poland the opportunity to counterattack, which was what they wanted to do anyway,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said.
In Italy’s first competitive match under Mancini, Federico Bernerdeschi also produced a couple of dangerous chances.
Mario Balotelli played for just over an hour without any impact before exiting with a slight limp.
“Mario needs to play. He’s an experienced player on the international stage, but his fitness levels are an issue right now,” Mancini said.
Italy’s only victory in its last eight matches was in May, when it beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a friendly.
“Hopefully we can improve from Monday, but clearly we cannot risk any more setbacks after this draw,” defender Leonardo Bonucci said. “Portugal is the reigning champion of Europe and is not to be underestimated.”
RUSSIA’S FOR REAL
Russia showed that its World Cup quarterfinal appearance was no fluke with a 2-1 win at Turkey in League B.
Artem Dzyuba scored the winner early in the second half after being left unmarked behind Turkey’s defense.
Serbia has never qualified for the European Championship but looked solid in beating host Lithuania 1-0 in League C.
Dusan Tadic converted a first-half penalty and the visitors also hit the woodwork four times.
The Nations League, which is in its debut edition, provides an additional route to Euro 2020 beyond the usual qualifying, which begins next year. At least one team from each tier is guaranteed a place in the tournament.
Seven minutes after coming on at halftime in the friendly, Batshuayi took a pass from Eden Hazard in a swift Belgium break and guided the ball low into the net.
The earlier goals in Glasgow came from Romelu Lukaku in the first half and Hazard a minute into the second half.
The Belgian players showed the quality that saw them achieve their team’s best World Cup showing by finishing third in Russia in July.
Scotland hasn’t qualified for a tournament since the 1998 World Cup.
- Copa Sudamericana
- English Premier League
- FA Cup
- FIFA U-20 World Cup
- International Friendlies
- Serie A