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Nations League: Biraghi stars as Italy pip Poland

Mon, 15 Oct 2018
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CHORZOW, Poland: Italy snatched a dramatic 1-0 win away to Poland in their Nations League match yesterday thanks to a stoppage-time header from Cristiano Biraghi.

Biraghi’s goal gave Italy their first win in the competition and also their first in a competitive match under coach Roberto Mancini.

It also meant that Poland, who have one point from three games, will finish bottom of Group Three in League A and will be relegated to the second-tier League B when the competition is next held.

The win was no more than Italy deserved after they dominated the match and twice hit the crossbar in the first half. Italy have four points from three games while leaders Portugal have six from two.

In League B, Group 2, goals either side of halftime by Roman Neustadter and Denis Cheryshev handed Russia a 2-0 win against Turkey.

A powerful drive by Russian defender Georgy Dzhikiya following a corner hit the post before finding Neustadter, who tapped the ball behind Turkish goalkeeper Sinan Bolat to open scoring in the 20th minute.

Russia doubled their lead in the 78th minute when substitute Cheryshev latched on to Aleksandr Golovin’s cross and fired home with a left-footed shot just inside the near post.

Russia, surprise quarter-finalists at this year’s World Cup, lead Group 2 with seven points. They will travel to Sweden, who are bottom of the standings with one point but with a game in hand, on Nov. 20. Turkey have three points.

n Gareth Southgate believes English players have been hampered by the Premier League starting so soon after the World Cup.

England face Spain in the Uefa Nations League today.

Their top flight began on August 10, less than a month after England had been knocked out by Croatia in the semi-finals in Russia.

The first divisions in France and Italy began on the same weekend, but La Liga in Spain kicked off on August 17 and the Bundesliga in Germany on August 24.

“When you see the league, a lot of teams haven’t started yet at their maximum. There have been lot of injuries across our league,” Southgate said yesterday.

“I don’t really understand why our league started so early, but they did, and it was a really difficult situation for the clubs.

“Some of the clubs couldn’t field a team without...look at Tottenham, who had so many players in the semi-finals of the World Cup. It was an impossible situation for their coaches really.”

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