Biraghi gives Italy stoppage-time win in Poland

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Italy's defender Cristiano Biraghi (L) celebrates scoring with Italy's defender Giorgio Chiellini during the UEFA Nations League football match against Poland at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow, Poland, on Sunday. — AFP

CHORZOW, Poland — Italy snatched a dramatic and deserved 1-0 win away to Poland in their Nations League match on Sunday thanks to a stoppage-time header from Cristiano Biraghi, his first international goal.

Biraghi gave Italy their first win in the competition and also their first in a competitive match since Roberto Mancini took over as coach in May.

It also meant that Poland, who have one point from three games after also losing at home to Portugal on Thursday, will finish bottom of Group Three in League A and will be relegated to the second-tier League B.

It was a richly-deserved win for Italy who produced one of their best performances in the last few years and twice hit the crossbar in the first half.

Italy have four points from three games while leaders Portugal, who remain firm favorites to win the group and qualify for the semifinals at the end of the season, have six from two.

"We dominated the match, we should have scored earlier and it would have been very unfair if the game had finished 0-0," said Mancini who is rebuilding the side after their failure to qualify for this year's World Cup. "It's a great win, we can still improve a lot but it needs patience — these lads need time."

Poland made six changes to the team that lost to Portugal while Italy's line-up was unchanged from Wednesday's 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine.

Italy immediately took the initiative and midfielder Jorginho curled a shot against the bar in the first minute.

Lorenzo Insigne dinked the ball on to the roof of the net from Alessandro Florenzi's pass and the Napoli forward also struck the woodwork on the half-hour after Federico Chiesa sent him clear.

Jorginho then forced Wojciech Szczesny to make a difficult save as Italy continued to dominate the game and create chances.

Italy continued to push forward after halftime, playing some flowing football in the process, and should have gone ahead when Federico Bernardeschi found himself with a free header from Chiesa's cross but sent his shot wide of the target.

Then it was Poland's turn as Kamil Grosicki was sent clear by Roberto Lewandowski. His shot was parried by Gianluigi Donnarumma and the rebound fell to Arkadiusz Milik who fired wide.

A draw would have guaranteed Portugal top spot with two games to spare but Italy finally got their reward in the 92nd minute.

A corner was touched on by substitute Kevin Lasagne at the near post and Biraghi, winning his third cap, headed in to spark delirious celebrations on the Italy bench.

Eder on target as Portugal prove too strong for Scotland

In Glasgow, Portugal forward Eder scored his first international goal since the Euro 2016 final against France to complete a 3-1 friendly win over Scotland on Sunday.

Debutant Helder Costa opened the scoring on his international debut for an experimental Portugal who made 10 changes from the team which started the 3-2 Nations League win in Poland on Thursday. Bruma added a third and Steven Naismith scored a consolation for the hosts

Scotland, beaten 2-1 win in Israel in the Nations League in their last outing, managed to hold their own until Bruma freed Kevin Rodrigues and his low cross was turned in by Costa in the 44th minute.

The European champions went further ahead in the 73rd minute when Renato Sanches floated a cross into the area and Eder outjumped his marker to head in.

Bruma, always dangerous, latched on to a through pass, cut inside his marker and fired past Craig Gordon to add a third goal with six minutes left. Naismith made the scoreline more respectable in stoppage time, clipping the ball past Beto after being set up by Gary Mackay-Steven’s clever backheel.

Russia secure 2-0 win over Turkey

In Sochi, Russia, goals either side of halftime by Roman Neustadter and Denis Cheryshev handed Russia a 2-0 win against Turkey in their UEFA Nations League B, Group 2 match on Sunday.

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 quarterfinalists 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. — Reuters


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