Italy reaches Nations League finals by beating Bosnia 2-0

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Italy advanced to the Nations League Final Four by beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 on Wednesday.

Andrea Belotti and Domenico Berardi scored in a game that Italy dominated to ensure it finished top of Group 1 and earned the right to host the Nations League finals in October.

Federico Bernardeschi also hit the crossbar late on with one of Italy’s numerous chances.

Italy will be joined in the tournament finals by France, Belgium and Spain.

“It will be nice to measure ourselves up because we’re talking about the strongest teams in Europe so we can’t wait to compare ourselves to them to see our level, how far we’ve come,” assistant coach Alberico Evani said.

Evani filled in for head coach Roberto Mancini, who is self-isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Italy finished a point ahead of the Netherlands, which scored two late goals to win 2-1 in Poland.

Bosnia was already mathematically relegated to League B.

Italy was beset with problems coming into the match. Standout forward Ciro Immobile was also still out with the coronavirus and the Azzurri were without more than 20 other players due to club quarantines and injuries.

Italy had already beaten Estonia and Poland with understrength teams over the past week.

“You can only tell them thanks because when they give so much for this shirt, with all the difficulties they’ve had,” Evani said. “Because this week we had a lot and to get three wins with three convincing performances … I can only say thanks to them.”

Italy dominated from the start and opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Manuel Locatelli sent Lorenzo Insigne down the left flank and he crossed for Belotti, whose volley looped over Bosnia goalkeeper Kenan Pirić.

Bosnia almost leveled shortly before halftime but Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a great save at point-blank range to deny Smail Prevljak.

Moments later Italy could have doubled its lead but Lorenzo Insigne’s curled finish skimmed the outside of the far post.

Italy was creating chances but lacked the finishing touch. On the hour mark it was Francesco Acerbi’s turn to miss the target as his effort flashed across goal and just wide of the right upright.

The Azzurri finally doubled their lead in the 68th as Locatelli sent a ball over the top for Berardi to volley into the bottom right corner.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Other Sports News | Soccer News | Sports

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up