Italy proved too strong for Hungary and head into the Nations League semi-finals as League A, Group 3 winners.
Roberto Mancini’s side were gifted the lead just before the half-hour mark when an errant back pass from Adam Nagy led to the ball falling for Giacomi Raspadori in the penalty area and he calmly rounded Peter Gulacsi before slotting home.
Hungary, despite wanting to put on a show for retiring spearhead Adam Szalai, could not repeat their fine performances against England and Germany, but on another day against another goalkeeper may well have had some reward.
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The second goal came less than two minutes after a triple save from Gianluigi Donnarumma, as Italy broke away and Bryan Cristante fired a ball from the by-line for Federico Dimarco to slam home at the back post.
The win sees Italy top the group, a point clear of Hungary.
Future bright for Italy – Having overachieved with his elder statesmen at Euro 2020, Roberto Mancini’s position was then in jeopardy when they did not qualify for a World Cup for the second time in succession and must have been hanging by a thread when Germany hit five past them in the summer.
It will be too raw to suggest to Azzuri tifosi now, but they are likely to miss a tournament when they would be also-rans and return to a big tournament as real contender. This Italy side was unlikely to be capable of winning the tournament in Qatar, but the young squad has shown quality against top opposition and the fire of missing out in the Middle East will likely see them provide a strong defence of their European title in two years’ time – and when they surely at last return to the World stage in North America after that.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy) – A fantastic performance. While Italy were the better side, Hungary certainly had the chances to push them close and would have done so were it not for an extraordinary performance from the Italian number one. He made six saves in the game, four of them of a very high standard. His 2021/22 season was one to forget with injury and illness, sharing goalkeeper duties at club level and that very poor match at Real Madrid. But nearly every team in the World Cup would wish they could call on Italy’s number one.
Hungary: Gulacsi 6; Orban 6, Attila Szalai 6, Lang 6; Fiola 5, Schafer 6, Nagy 6, Kerkez 6; Nego 7, Gazdag 6; Adam Szalai 5.
Subs: Styles 7, Gazdag 6, Kleinheiseer 6, Adam 6, Bolla 6
Italy: Donnarumma 9*; Toloi 6, Bonucci 7, Acerbi 6; Di Lorenzo 7, Barella 7, Jorginho 7, Cristante 8, Dimarco 7; Raspadori 8, Gnonto 6.
Subs: Bastoni 6, Pobega 6, Gabbiadini 6, Mazzochi 6, Scamacca 6
27′ GOAL FOR ITALY! That was a gift. Raspadori scores in consecutive games, playing the ball in their own box, Nagy gave a hospital ball to his goalkeeper and under pressure from Gnonto Gulasci can only clear a couple of yards to the Italian striker who rounds the stopper and slots home.
50′ TRIPLE SAVE FROM DONNARUMMA! What a performance from the Azzuri keeper. Initially he denies Nego diving to his left, then gets up before diving to his left to deny a shot from the edge of the box from Styles. Then best of the lot, he denies Adam Szalai a goal from point blank range.
52′ GOAL FOR ITALY! So close to a goal at the other end and Italy make them pay. Cristante fires a cross from the by-line and DiMarco enters the six-yard box at the back post to slam home into an empty net
55′ ANOTHER AMAZING SAVE! Nego crosses perfectly from the right flak and Styles heads down at the far post but Donnarumma had scrambled across his box and blocks with his legs.
64′ ANOTHER DONNARUMMA SAVE! Styles’ effort is deflected off Bonucci but the keeper adjusts and moves the other way to parry the ball away.
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