Italy joined the Netherlands and Croatia in the Nations League semifinals with a comfortable 2-0 win over Hungary, while England and Germany shared the spoils at Wembley in the a 3-3 draw that will leave both teams frustrated with their performance ahead of the World Cup. Cup.
Italy were expected to prevail in Hungary to win Group A3 on Friday, and the Azurri did not disappoint.
Italy striker Wilfried Gnonto pounced on a weak back pass in the 27th minute and was tackled by Hungary goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi, but Gulácsi couldn’t stop Giacomo Raspadori who took advantage of the loose ball to drive home .
Frederico Dimarco struck home at the far post in the 52nd minute to seal the game in front of a noisy Puskás Aréna Park and qualify the Italians for their second consecutive Nations League final. Despite the victory, it is little consolation after Italy’s surprise exit in World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia.
But Roberto Mancini will be delighted with his new Italian side, which had just four starters from the 2020 European Championship final won last year.
“We were excellent for 70 minutes. The last 20 I didn’t like too much,” Mancini said after the game according to Reuters.
“It’s important to have reached the last four of the Nations League for the second time, but the previous results unfortunately remain.
“Let’s say that we were good at relaunching and setting up a group that has values on which we can work.
The defeat ended a memorable campaign for Hungary, who at the start of the group looked like the whipping boys but outclassed both Germany and England before narrowly missing out on fourth place.
Meanwhile, in the other match in Group A3, England and Germany faced off in a game which, while inconsistent in the Nations League, was vital for the final World Cup warm-up. for both teams.
Once again it was the much maligned Harry Maguire who was the center of attention. After a lackluster first half, the Manchester United centre-back gave away the ball before bringing down Jamal Musiala for a penalty. Ilkay Gündogan converted the free kick to put the visitors ahead in the 52nd minute.
A quarter of an hour later, the visitors doubled their lead, but this goal concerned the German class. Timo Werner found space on the edge of the box before dropping a pass to former Chelsea team-mate Kai Havertz who headed a magnificent curling effort off the post.
But the Three Lions have shown steel and resilience that have been lacking in Gareth Southgate’s side of late to mount a comeback. A clean finish from Luke Shaw at the back post in the 71st minute, followed by a fine curling finish from Mason Mount just four minutes later brought the game level just eight minutes from Havertz’s strike.
In the 82nd, things went from bad to worse for the Germans when Nico Schlotterbeck fouled Jude Bellingham inside the box and Harry Kane sent in the resulting penalty.
But the sensational drama was not over yet. In the 87th minute, Serge Gnabry cut inside and directed a diving effort at Nick Pope who made a meal on the single save and knocked the ball down the path of Havertz who tucked in his second of the night.
The result will leave Gareth Southgate plenty to ponder ahead of the World Cup, but will ultimately end a miserable Nations League campaign in which England have failed to win a single game, the longest streak winless for the team since 1993.
After the match, Southgate told Channel 4: “To some degree we’re always going to deal with pressure, so we have to be exposed to pressure.
“We played a friendly against Ivory Coast in March and they went to 10 men and it became a non-event and we learned nothing.
“This week we learned a lot. They had to come forward and come together – it will benefit us in the long run.
Germany boss Hansi Flick will also reflect on what went wrong in the group as the Germans only picked up one win in the group.
Neither coach will have time to turn things around as their next game will be their opening games of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar which kicks off on November 20.
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