Nations League: Penalty helps Italy draw against Poland; Russia beat Turkey
Playing their first match since the World Cup play-off match loss to Sweden, Italy needed a late Jorginho penalty to draw 1-1 against Poland in their first League A Group three match of the Nations League on Friday.
Both sides were playing their first competitive match under new managers Jerzy Brzeczek and Roberto Mancini after a disappointing summer, where Poland was knocked out from the group stage in the World Cup, while Italy even failed to qualify for the tournament.
Poland scored first when Piotr Zielinski volleyed home a wonderful cross from Robert Lewandowski five minutes before half-time.
Italy played well but found chances hard to come by and with time running out they found a life-line when Jakub Blaszczykowski fouled Federico Chiesa in the 78th minute.
Brazil-born Jorginho stood up and converted sending Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way to bring home at least a point. The draw also meant Italy has failed to win each of their last seven matches, with their last victory coming against Saudi Arabia in May.
“We made a few too many mistakes when playing out from the back and that gave Poland the opportunity to counterattack, which was what they wanted to do anyway,” said Italy coach Roberto Mancini after the 1-1 draw.
Italy is currently ranked 21 in the FIFA rankings, their lowest in the last 25 years.
Meanwhile, Russia continued their run showing that the World Cup quarter-final appearance at home was no fluke with a 2-1 victory over Turkey in League B Group C match.
Artem Dzyuba scored the winner for Russia after Denis Cheryshev had opened the scoring and Serder Aziz had levelled the scores for Turkey.
Cheryshev was left unmarked and faced no difficulty in putting his side ahead, while all Dzyuba had to do was to score into an open net after a through ball saw him leave the entire Turkey defence behind.
In the League C matches, Albania rallied onto a Taulant Xhaka goal in the 55th minute to beat Israel 1-0, while Dusan Tadic’s penalty was enough to secure Serbia a 1-0 win against Lithuania.
In League D matches, Faroe Islands routed Malta 3-1, with Joan Edmundsson, Rene Joensen, and Michael Mifsud scoring, while Hallur Hansson got a consolation goal for Malta. Kosovo and Azerbaijan played out a goalless draw.