Italy took the victory in the consolation end from Nations League (2-1), in a game in which they were much higher than Belgium, which had several important casualties, and in which the ‘azzurri’ knew how to close the game on the only two occasions in which Thibaut Courtois, excellent under sticks, he could not stop the power of his rivals. The wards of Roberto Martinez reacted timidly to the changes of the coach and, although they were able to cut the distance on the scoreboard, it was insufficient to force penalties.

Nicoló Barella, with a great volley, and Domenico BerardiOn a penalty, they scored the decisive goals to hand Italy third place at the Juventus Stadium in Turin. After interrupting last Wednesday against Spain his streak of 37 games without losses, Italy was reunited with the victory against Belgium without Romelu Lukaku ni Eden Hazard, injured, still visibly affected by the defeat suffered in the semifinals against France, in which they wasted a 2-0 in favor.

Photo: Theo Hernández, at the time of scoring against Belgium.  (Reuters)
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The bet on Mancini, who made five changes compared to the eleven that fell to Spain, against a Belgium in which Martínez gave rest Kevin de Bruyne, in addition to the casualties of Lukaku and Hazard, who returned to their country to begin rehabilitation therapy for muscle injuries. It was a Monumental performance by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois the one that sustained Belgium in the first half. The Madrid goalkeeper was the protagonist with a great stop with one foot before a shot from Federico Chiesa, but could only delay the goal ‘azzurrro’.

Again Barella, who had also broken the equality in the last clash with Belgium in the quarterfinals of the European Championship, beat Courtois, this time with a big right leg volley in a set piece action when the second half had barely started. The Inter midfielder opened the way for the triumph of the ‘azzurra’ team, which extended distances in ’64 thanks to a maximum penalty committed by Castagne on Chiesa and transformed by Berardi. Courtois sensed the angle of the shot, as happened to him on Thursday in the penalty of Kylian Mbappé, but had to give up despite touching the ball with one hand.

It was the 64th minute and Martínez had just given way to De Bruyne to give more verticality and weight to his team, which, without a doubt, was not helped by good luck in this final four. The ‘Red Devils’ encountered wood on up to three occasions. Alexis Saelemaekers shook the crossbar in the first half, on one of his team’s few chances, while Michy Bathsuayi and Yannick Carrasco they smashed their shots against the crossbar and a post, respectively, at the restart.

The curse was broken by the young talent of the Brujas Charles de Ketelaere, who surpassed the goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to raise the score to 2-1 in ’86, when however it was too late to force penalties (there was no overtime in this match). Italy did not suffer to contain Belgium and finished in third place in the League of Nations to open a new cycle of triumphs, after the loss to Spain that interrupted their streak of 37 games without knowing the defeat.


2 – Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Acerbi, Emerson; Barella (Cristante, m.70), Locatelli, Pellegrini (Jorginho, m.70); Chiesa (Bernardeschi, m.91), Raspadori (Kean, m.65), Berardi (Insigne, m.91).

1 – Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne, Tielemans (De Bruyne, m.59), Witsel, Saelemaekers (De Ketelaere, m.59); Carrasco (Trossard, m.86), Batshuayi, Vanaken.

Goals: 1-0, m.46: Barella; 2-0, m64: Berardi (penalty); 2-1, m.86: De Ketelaere.

Referee: Srdjan Jovanovic (SER). He showed yellow card to Di Lorenzo (m.30) and Emerson (m.82), from Italy, and to Vertonghen (m.14), Witsel (m.56) and Alderweireld (m.63), from Belgium.

Incidents: Final for third and fourth place in the UEFA Nations League played at the Juventus Stadium in Turin (north) in front of about 18,000 spectators.

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