Italy snagged a late win over Poland in Uefa Nations League competition on Sunday night to keep them in contention for the top spot in Group 3.
The teams faced off, both hoping to get their first win in the tournament after picking up just one point, having previously drawn 1-1 against each other in September. But there was also the risk of being relegated from the newly-formed European division with a loss, while a draw would confirm Portugal as the group winners.
The Italians completely dominated the first half but were made to head into halftime as they came, despite creating numerous chances.
The second half told a similar story, with the Azzurri piling on the pressure and leaving Poland with very little of the ball but failing to convert.
Poland’s so shit at defending and Italy’s so shit at finishing 😭— #OneArsèneWenger (@DSwan_) October 14, 2018
Roberto Mancini's men left it quite late, scoring past the 90-minute mark to stun their hopeful opposition, who will now drop down from the division after accruing a single point in three games.
Below is our breakdown of the match.
Key Talking Point
Italy could have scored several times in this one as they created many chances in both halves. But their final product was indeed poor as they spared the Polish defence time and time again.
They did manage to put the ball in the back of the net midway through the second half, only to see the goal ruled out by the offside flag.
Roberto Mancini's decision to start Federico Chiesa, Federico Bernadeschi and Lorenzo Insigne did not particularly impress. But they managed to conjure up a late winner through a defender in the dying embers, with Cristiano Biraghi breaking Polish hearts with a stoppage-time poke after Kevin Lasagna got his head to a corner to find him near the entrance of the goal.
Italy Starting XI: Donnarumma (7), Florenzi (7), Bonucci (8), Chielini, Biraghi (8), Barella (7), Jorginho (8), Verratti (7.5), Chiesa (7), Bernadeschi (6), Insigne (6.5)
Substitutes: Sirigu, Perin, Piccini (N/A), Acerbi, Criscito, Bonaventura, Pellegrini, Gagliardini, Lasagna (8), Berardi (8), Immobile, Giovinco
Jorginho: While his performance in the second half wasn't as good as in the first, the Brazil-born midfielder proved his worth in the middle of the park for Italy as he strung passes together, connected his teammates and dictated the play in midfield.
The midfielder nearly opened the scoring quite early on with what would have been a remarkable goal from outside of the box but was unfortunate to hit the crossbar.
Maurizio Sarri will have been pleased if he watched his country play in this match as his former Napoli star, now with him at Chelsea, showed why the Blues spent big to bring him to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Love watching Jorginho. If he can't take the ball himself he'll tell you who to pass it to!— Notes from Verona (@rick_hough) October 14, 2018
Jorginho hardly gets among the goals, yet his value in midfield cannot be discounted and his passing, vision and quickness on the ball makes him one of the best midfielders in Europe at the moment.
Insigne has built up a reputation as a deadly striker for both club and country. But the Napoli attacker seemed off it on Sunday as he was unable to put his chances away.
Insigne picked out a side pass there you can't script this shit— Patrick (@DybalaCurve) October 14, 2018
It seemed like he lost a bit of confidence at one point, passing across the goal instead of going for it. And he will be relieved to have watched Biraghi nick it at the end after such an uncharacteristic showing.
Mancini's troops put on an impressive show, save the finishing, against Poland and will look to top the group when they face Portugal on Wednesday.
The Euro 16 winners have emerged victorious in both of their matches so far, garnering six points. However, a win for Italy would fire them to the top with seven points.