Nations League: Barella and Pellegrini inspire Italy win over Hungary

Nicolò Barella’s ferocious strike and a Lorenzo Pellegrini tap-in gave Italy victory in the Nations League, though Gianluca Mancini’s own goal kept Hungary in it.

The Hungarians were top of the Nations League group after beating England 1-0, while the Azzurri started a new era with a creditable 1-1 draw against Germany. Gianluigi Donnarumma was able to play with a modified glove after dislocating a finger in his left hand, while 18-year-old Willy Gnonto had his first start after a sensational debut with assist. The only Hungarian change by coach Marco Rossi was in goal at the Stadio Manuzzi in Cesena.

Gnonto hit a fresh-air volley and then had a shot charged down for a corner, from which Gianluca Mancini’s header forced a one-handed save.

Donnarumma got down to beat away the Roland Sallai strike from the edge of the box, but the deadlock was broken when Leonardo Spinazzola rolled across for Barella, who smashed a ferocious right-foot finish into the far top corner from the edge of the box.

Alessandro Bastoni almost got on the end of a Giacomo Raspadori assist from six yards, then Lorenzo Pellegrini was clear on goal after a great passing move, but opted to roll across for Gnonto instead of going for goal himself, finding a desperate Nego interception.

Moments later, Pellegrini did find the net, as Matteo Politano sprinted down the right and pulled back from the by-line for his tap-in from eight yards.

Gnonto turned a defender inside out to get the cross in for Davide Calabria’s deflected shot, but Donnarumma was also tested by a smart Zsolt Nagy volley on a well-placed Nego assist.

Politano went on a rapid counter-attack moments later, his finish smashing against the crossbar with Denes Dibusz beaten and the Bryan Cristante follow-up drilled wide.

Barella completed a spectacular double give-and-go with his teammates to burst into the box, only to have Dibusz smother at his feet.

Italy literally gifted Hungary a goal, as Attila Fiola’s cross from the right seemed harmless until Gianluca Mancini slipped and turned it into his own net at the near post.

Donnarumma had to fingertip the Sallai effort over after a Hungarian counter-attack and Calabria curled wide, while Napoli-owned forward Alessio Zerbin got his senior Italy debut after a strong season on loan at Frosinone in Serie B.

Manuel Locatelli went on a mazy run to test the goalkeeper in the final minutes.

Italy 2-1 Hungary

Barella 30 (I), Pellegrini 45 (I), Mancini og 61 (H)

Italy: Donnarumma; Calabria, Mancini, Bastoni, Spinazzola (Dimarco 75); Pellegrini (Locatelli 66), Cristante, Barella (Tonali 84); Politano (Belotti 75), Raspadori (Zerbin 84), Gnonto

Hungary: Dibusz; Nego (Fiola 58), Lang, Orban, At Szalai, Z Nagy (Bolla 81); Schafer (Vancsa 87), Szoboszlai, A Nagy (Styles 57), Sallai; Ad Szalai (Adam 87)

Ref: Schärer (SUI)

5 Comments on “Nations League: Barella and Pellegrini inspire Italy win over Hungary”

  1. It is great to see these young players leading the way. It is fun to watch. I just can’t stop thinking that if only this was done sooner. We would be going to the world cup and would be one of the favorites. What a waist.

  2. Really good first 60 minutes. But as the old saying goes, if you don’t take your chances then sooner or later you will get punished. At times it was like we wanted to walk the ball into the net, but the lack of clinical finishing continues to be a major problem.

  3. My one criticism of this match besides Mancini’s comical own goal is Scamacca not being on the bench in place of Belotti. I understand if you want to try a different formation, but what is the point of leaving Scamacca out entirely? How do you expect him to be the center forward moving forward if he plays every other game or once every three games? Putting Belotti on was meaningless if you’re looking to turn a corner.

  4. Matt, I totally agree with you. Belotti should not be recalled by the Azzuri anymore just like Immobile and Jorginho and some other players.

  5. Agree with most of above. If Italy had a finisher even of Jamie Vardy’s level, they would score 3 times the goals.

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