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Rediff.com  » Sports » Nations League: Portugal give Italy's Mancini plenty to worry about

Nations League: Portugal give Italy's Mancini plenty to worry about

September 11, 2018 10:17 IST

IMAGE: Portugal's Mario Rui tries to get past Italy's Domenico Berardi during the UEFA Nations League match at Estadio da Luz, in Lisbon on Monday. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Portugal rested Cristiano Ronaldo and still overcame new-look Italy 1-0 in their opening Nations League match on Monday, giving visiting coach Roberto Mancini plenty to think about

Forward Andre Silva scored three minutes after halftime in the League A Group 3 game to give the Portuguese their first win over Italy in a competitive match since 1957.

 

Mancini, in only his second competitive match in charge, made nine changes to the team which started Friday's 1-1 draw at home to Poland but his side were on the back foot for most of the match and struggled to create any real danger.

Italy forward Mario Balotelli, widely criticised after his performance against the Poles, did not even make the substitutes bench and watched the match from the stands.

Italy, who missed out on this year's World Cup for the first time in 60 years, are without a win in four competitive matches.

"The players gave all they could, but to win you need to score goals so we must find a remedy," said Mancini. "We made mistakes, and we must try to limit them."

"I didn’t enjoy the defeat, but I did like the team’s desire to keep trying right until the end, even if they were at risk of conceding a second goal."

Portugal, who agreed to give their record scorer Ronaldo time to adapt following his move to Juventus from Real Madrid, lead the group with three points, ahead of Poland and Italy on one each.

The European champions dominated the first half against the Italians but failed to make the most of their chances.

Portugal's Bernardo Silva saw a shot cleared off the line by Alessio Romagnoli, Mario Rui's shot was deflected onto the bar and a William Carvalho shot fizzed past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma's post from 25 metres.

The deadlock was finally broken after halftime.

Bruma, wearing the number seven shirt which usually belongs to Ronaldo, dispossessed Italian debutant Manuel Lazzari, burst into the area and found Silva who curled a shot past Donnarumma from 12 metres.

Portugal, in typically pragmatic style, dropped back after the goal but Italy did little with the extra possession.

Their best chance fell to Simone Zaza who beat Carvalho to a corner but headed over from close range.

Lata Akbaba double gives Turkey win in Sweden

IMAGE: Sweden's Sebastian Larsson fights for the ball with Turkey's Oguzhan Ozyakup during the Nations League match at Arena, Solna, Stockholm. Photograph: TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/Reuters

Turkey's substitute Emre Akbaba got two late goals to snatch a stunning 3-2 win over Sweden in the Nations League as the visitors recovered from two goals down at the Friends Arena.

The midfielder first rifled home Cenk Tosun's pass to level the score two minutes from time and then sent a glancing header past home goalkeeper Robin Olsen, sealing the comeback win to the delight of the thousands of Turkish fans in the crowd.

Turkey, who suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Russia in their opening League B Group 2 game, started well and had lots of possession but the final ball into the box often lacked quality.

Sweden had taken the lead in their opening Nations League match when Isaac Kiese-Thelin scored 10 minutes before the break, flicking Viktor Claesson's cushioned header against the post before slotting home the rebound.

Claesson got on the scoresheet himself four minutes into the second half, drifting in from the left before releasing a rocket of a shot from distance that flew into the net.

Hakan Calhanoglu quickly threw Turkey a lifeline, pulling a goal back two minutes later with a deflected shot that wrong-footed home keeper Olsen.

The Swedes, whose defensive organisation helped them reach the quarter-finals at this year's World Cup in Russia where they were defeated by England, had several chances to increase their lead, but Akbaba had the final say to secure the points.

Kosovo beat Faroes to claim first-ever competitive win

Kosovo clinched their first-ever win in a competitive international by beating the Faroe Islands 2-0.

Two goals in a six-minute spell after halftime by Arber Zeneli and Atdhe Nuhiu earned Kosovo the points in the League D Group 3 match, which was also the first time they had staged a competitive game in Kosovo itself.

Dutch-based Zeneli curled a superb shot into the bottom corner in the 50th minute and Nuhiu, who plays for English second tier side Sheffield Wednesday, doubled their advantage with a deflected effort to spark jubilant scenes at a packed Fadil Vokrr stadium.

Kosovo were admitted as members of UEFA and subsequently FIFA in 2016 following a long campaign during which they faced fierce opposition from Serbia.

They drew one and lost nine of their matches in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and were held 0-0 by Azerbaijan in their opening Nations League match on Friday.

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