CHORZOW, Poland. October 14 – Cristiano Biraghi’s last-gasp winner kept Italy’s chances of reaching the UEFA Nations League final four alive as they secured a 1:0 triumph away to Poland.
Final score: Poland – Italy 0:1
Roberto Mancini’s men looked to be heading for a disappointing stalemate due to poor finishing but Biraghi bundled in from close range in stoppage-time to set up an intriguing League A Group 3 contest with pacesetters Portugal in November.
Italy were completely dominant in the first half but somehow failed to take the lead, with Jorginho and Lorenzo Insigne both hitting the crossbar.
Poland made a marked improvement in the second period, though Italy remained the controlling force and finally clinched a deserved three points right at the end, moving them to within two points of Portugal.
It did not take Italy long to establish control and they almost opened the scoring in the second minute, as Jorginho struck the crossbar from 25 yards.
Poland had another lucky escape after half-an-hour – Insigne prodding Federico Bernardeschi’s cross onto the frame of the goal.
Italy’s dominance only increased as half-time approached, but the breakthrough eluded them due to the heroics of Wojciech Szczesny, who produced fine saves to deny Jorginho, Alessandro Florenzi and Giorgio Chiellini.
The hosts looked more solid after the break and finally tested Gianluigi Donnarumma just before the hour, with the goalkeeper thwarting Kamil Grosicki from a tight angle.
Shortly after Bernardeschi headed wide from close range, Donnarumma again had to be alert, parrying another Grosicki effort away and then seeing Arkadiusz Milik blast the rebound over.
It was ultimately Italy who took the spoils, however, as Kevin Lasagna flicked on a corner delivery and Biraghi nudged it over the line from close range.
“These two games showed how much work is ahead of us. We tried to play in a different system against Portugal and Italy, but we’ve seen that it’s not for us. This game against Italy was the worst of the four games I’ve been in charge of. Szczęsny saved us from conceding more goals.” Poland coach Jerzy Brzeczek told uefa.com.
After back-to-back defeats, Poland are relegated to League B of the UEFA Nations League. One more game remains between Portugal and Italy in the decider on who will be promoted.
Poland – Italy 0:1 (0:0)
Goal: Biraghi 90′
Yellow carded: Jorginho
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia) Attendance: 41 692
Poland: 1. Wojciech Szczęsny – 18. Bartosz Bereszyński, 15. Kamil Glik, 5. Jan Bednarek, 14. Arkadiusz Reca (87, 3. Artur Jędrzejczyk) – 13. Damian Szymański (46, 11. Kamil Grosicki), 6. Jacek Góralski, 8. Karol Linetty (46, 16. Jakub Błaszczykowski) – 9. Robert Lewandowski, 20. Piotr Zieliński, 7. Arkadiusz Milik
Italy: 22. Gianluigi Donnarumma – 16. Alessandro Florenzi (84, 2. Cristiano Piccini), 19. Leonardo Bonucci, 3. Giorgio Chiellini, 15. Cristiano Biraghi – 23. Nicolò Barella, 8. Jorginho, 6. Marco Verratti – 14. Federico Chiesa, 20. Federico Bernardeschi (81, 9. Kevin Lasagna), 10. Lorenzo Insigne
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