In the UEFA Nations League football match, Italy defeated Belgium for third place at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. Neither side showed any signs of complacency in the opening moments, playing with equal intensity despite the criticisms from the Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois claiming “the game for the third place is pointless”.
Blocking Federico Chiesa’s effort Real Madrid goalie was the one to prevent an opener, and 25 minutes into the game it was Belgium who came closest to taking the lead as Michy Batshuayi provided the pass for his teammate Alexis Saelemaekers, who sent his strike over the crossbar.
The first half concluded on a goalless draw and much like the first period, the second also started in high intensity – just one minute into half Italy duly found a breakthrough. A goalscorer in their triumphant UEFA European Championships quarter-final over Belgium back in summer, Nicolo Barella added his name on the scoreboard once again, sending the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
Roberto Martinez turned to Kevin De Bruyne to inspire his team into action being fully aware the defeat could knock them off the top of the FIFA World Rankings, yet the substitution was of little help when the hosting team doubled their advantage.
Timothy Castagne was unable to handle Chiesa’s trickery inside the box, bringing the Juventus forward down, before Domenico Berardi converted the penalty given after the VAR review. Charles De Ketelaere’s late goal on his international debut threatened to spark an added-time Belgium comeback, yet the final whistle recorded a 2-1 ‘Azzurri’ victory for Roberto Mancini’s men.
The Euros-winning manager has now become the fastest to reach the milestone of 30 wins with the fewest matches (44) in history. Watch football highlights of the UEFA Nations League match where Italy defeated Belgium.
Italy – Belgium 2:1
Goals: Barella 46’, Berardi 65’ (p.) – de Ketalaere 86’