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Italy tops Poland on late Biraghi goal

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Set pieces, man. Set pieces.

Italy stole a 1-0 victory late on a goal in the second minute of stoppage time by Cristiano Biraghi, his first goal for Italy on just his third cap.

The strike came on a corner deep in the contest, as it was whipped in by Lorenzo Insigne to the near post where Kevin Lasagna flicked it across to the far post, a messy-looking goal but a quality one with Lasagna’s hard work. Biraghi was one of three Italians there at the end of the ball to just one defender, and he poked it in past Wojciech Szczesny for the win.

The win was a deserved one as the Italians held 70% of the possession throughout the match, and fired off 18 shots to Poland’s six, although they were only able to get five of those 18 on target.

Jorginho and Federico Chiesa had both hit the post with shots before the half, while Federico Bernadeschi missed a wide-open header in the 71st minute. Poland, meanwhile, failed to record a shot on target until the 57th minute, and ultimately found themselves relegated to Group B.

The win is Roberto Mancini’s second in charge, his first competitive one, and is the country’s first in three Nations League matches. They will take on the United States in late November.

UEFA Nations League: Portugal win again without Ronaldo

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: Eden Hazard says he won’t leave Chelsea in January ]

Poland 2-3 Portugal

A Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal side fell behind Poland after 18 minutes — when Krzysztof Piatek, Serie A’s leading scorer (Genoa) after eight games, netted the opening goal and the first of his international career — but the reigning European champions proceeded to score the next three — courtesy of Andre Silva, Kamil Gilk (own goal) and Bernardo Silva — in a span of 21 minutes. Jakub Blaszczykowski pulled one back in the 77th minute, but 3-2 is as close as Poland would get.

Ronaldo hasn’t played for Portugal since the summer, prior to his $123-million transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus. Blaszczykowski became Poland’s all-time caps leader (103), while Robert Lewandowski made his 100th appearance for his country and assisted his former Borussia Dortmund teammate on the late consolation goal.

Portugal sits atop League A Group 3 with six points from two games, while Poland and Italy sit second and third with a single point.

Russia 0-0 Sweden

In League B Group 2, Russia and Sweden played to a scoreless draw. Russia sit top of the group with four points from two games, with Turkey and Sweden in second and third, on three and one points, respectively.

Israel 2-1 Scotland

Scotland sit atop League C Group 1 after two games played, but only barely. With three teams — the Scots, Israel and Albania — all on three points, there’s very little to separate one side from the next.

Scotland took a first-half lead on Thursday, thanks to Charlie Mulgrew’s penalty kick in the 25th minute, but a second-half collapse — completed by a Kieran Tierney own goal in the 74th — gave Israel their first victory and points of the competition. Having out-shot the visitors 25-7 (9-2 on target), the result was deserved.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League action

League C Group 4

Montenegro 0-2 Serbia
Lithuania 1-2 Romania

League D Group 3

Faroe Islands 0-3 Azerbaijan
Kosovo 3-1 Malta

Friday’s UEFA Nations League schedule (all games start at 2:45 p.m. ET)

League A Group 2

Belgium vs. Switzerland

League A Group 4

Croatia vs. England

League B Group 3

Austria vs. Northern Ireland

League C Group 2

Greece vs. Hungary
Estonia vs. Finland

League D Group 2

Moldova vs. San Marino
Belarus vs. Luxembourg

UEFA Nations League: Italy draws at home, Cheryshev scores again

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The UEFA Nations League continued on Friday, and there was a clear competitive edge to the matches, moreso than the usual friendly contested between to nations during an otherwise meaningless international break.

Italy was forced to come from behind to earn a point at home against Poland in a 1-1 draw. Mario Balotelli earned his first competitive appearance since 2014, but young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was needed early to keep out Piotr Zielinski in the opening 15 minutes who broke free on goal.

Italy had a spell of attacking possession on the half-hour mark, but it came to nothing, and they were punished for it. Mateusz Klich dispossessed Chelsea midfielder Jorginho in the Italy third, and Robert Lewandowski’s cross fell to an unmarked Zielinski at the back post who finished easily for the 1-0 first-half lead. The Italians proved dangerous in the second half, and they earned an equalizer. Federico Chiesa came on in place of Lorenzo Insigne, and he was immediately effective. He earned a penalty with 14 minutes to go on a tackle by Jakub Blaszczykowski, who was lucky to stay on the field, already on a yellow from early in the match. Jorginho struck from the spot to level the score.

Russia traveled to Trabzon to take on Turkey, but it was the visitors who scored first, and a familiar name at that. Denis Cheryshev, who was massively influential in Russia’s surprising run at the World Cup over the summer, struck in the 13th minute with a powerful left-footed volley to put Russia 1-0 up. Before halftime, the hosts leveled as Galatasaray defender Serdar Aziz with a volleyed howitzer of his own. Russia retook the lead after the break through Artem Dyzuba

Romania drew Montenegro 0-0, although it wasn’t without controversy as Aleksandar Boljevic was brought down in the penalty area after just eight minutes, but no call was made. Romania had a few chances before the break, but otherwise there was little to speak of. Montenegro striker Stefan Mugosa was sent off for a second yellow with 13 minutes to go.

Aleksandr Mitrovic earned a penalty and Dusan Tadic scored from the spot as Serbia took down Lithuania on the road 1-0. Albania topped Israel 1-0 on a goal by Taulant Xhaka, the brother of Arsenal midfielder and Swiss international Granit Xhaka. The Faroe Islands topped Malta 3-1 for a big win, the country’s second win in a row and third in its last six matches.

World Cup Most Disappointing XI players

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With the final around the corner, we here at ProSoccerTalk already put together a list of our World Cup Team of the Tournament. With stars like Luka Modric, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, and K’Golo Kante headlining the list of players performing at the highest level on the biggest stage, the summer has no doubt proven as exciting as ever.

[ MORE: PST Writers pick their World Cup Best XI ]

However, there’s always another side of the coin. Many top teams disappointed heavily this summer, and with that comes poor individual performances from those expected to have a major impact. This summer has seen players who may have slipped from stardom to obscurity due to age or poor form. So who was the most disappointing? Some of us here put together a starting lineup of players who have underwhelmed compared to expectations.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Teams such as Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are heavily represented, as are other European nations like Denmark, Switzerland, and Poland who would have expected to perform better given their lofty FIFA rankings. Finally, the African nations will be disappointed to not reach the knockout phase, and make an appearance as a result.


Without further ado, here are some of our Disappointing Teams of the Tournament:

Kyle Bonn (4-3-3 formation)

GK: David De Gea (Spain)
DF: Alba (Spain), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Gerard Pique (Spain), Lukasz Piszczek (Poland)
MF: Sami Khedira (Germany), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
FW: Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Thomas Muller (Germany)

Matt Reed (3-4-3 formation)

GK: David de Gea
DF: Joshua Kimmich (Germany), Nicolas Otamendi, Gerard Pique
MF: Bernardo Silva (Portugal), Javier Mascherano, Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Mesut Ozil (Germany)
FW: Gabriel Jesus, Timo Werner (Germany), Robert Lewandowski

Daniel Karell (3-4-3 formation)

GK: David de Gea
DF: Gerard Pique, Nicolas Otamendi, Mats Hummels (Germany)
MF: Marco Reus (Germany), Javier Mascherano, Antoine Griezmann (France), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
FW: Neymar (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Nicholas Mendola (4-3-3 formation)

GK: David De Gea (Spain)
DF: Jerome Boateng (Germany), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Sergio Ramos (Spain)
MF: Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Sergej Malinkovic-Savic (Serbia), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
FW: Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Timo Werner (Germany), Raheem Sterling (England)


The goalkeeper is a consensus pick in Manchester United’s David de Gea, who has won countless awards in the Premier League over the last few seasons with the Red Devils and has been linked for years with a move to Manchester United. His exploits in Russia this summer, however, were far from the standards he has set for himself in England.

In defense, there are also a pair of consensus picks in Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi and Spain’s Gerard Pique. Otamendi was fabulous for Manchester City in their runaway title chase this past season, while Pique has been one of the best defenders in the world for years with Barcelona. Neither was up to their usual standards as both teams proved leaky at the back. Also appearing is Germany’s Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, who both failed to meet expectations in a wildly disappointing group stage exit.

In the middle of the pitch, Javier Mascherano is a consensus pick, with the 31-year-old starting each and every game of the Argentina’s World Cup yet failing to cover the back line effectively at an advanced age. Jorge Sampaoli’s faith in him proved to be a big reason for Argentina’s early exit. Germany’s Sami Khedira suffered a similar fate, although at least Jogi Low had the sense to bench him quickly. Others appearing here include disappointing attackers Christian Eriksen, Mesut Ozil, and Alex Iwobi. Eriksen was consistently double-teamed with Denmark offering little else up front, and they were left unable to threaten opposing defenses with any regularity. Ozil has been criticized often over the years at Arsenal, and he failed to provide much for Germany in creativity. Iwobi is a youngster who had been pegged as a potential breakout star at the World Cup, but he failed to deliver and the African teams left much on the table. Even Antoine Griezmann, who some have labeled a potential Golden Ball candidate, makes an appearance as the Frenchman has often struggled with the final ball up front and he occasionally appears unable to operate on the same page as his teammates.

Finally, up front brings us consensus pick Robert Lewandowski, who yet again failed to come up clutch on the big stage. He has gone missing recently in big European games for Bayern Munich, and he was unable to engineer anything special at the head of the attack for 8th ranked team in the world. Brazil youngster Gabriel Jesus makes a pair of appearances, having disappointed mightily up front for Brazil playing the central striker role. There were louder and louder calls to start Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino in his place as the tournament went on, but those fell on deaf ears with manager Tite. Germany’s pair of Thomas Muller and Timo Werner represent other disappointments, with the hero of the 2014 World Cup final and the country’s young new talisman both putting forth forgettable performances. And finally, yes, Argentina superstar Lionel Messi makes the cut. While many claim his team weighed him down, there is no debating Messi’s tournament was one to forget. Altogether, the six strikers that appear here combined for just one goal in the entire tournament, from Messi.

Poland coach fired after 2-loss, 1-win World Cup

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) The head of the Polish Football Federation says national coach Adam Nawalka will not have his contract extended after Poland failed to advance from the group phase at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Belgium completes shocking comeback against Japan ]

Zbigniew Boniek says on Tuesday that Nawalka will stay in the job only until July 30.

In Group H games in Russia, Poland lost to Senegal 2-1, and to Colombia 3-0. Poland beat only Japan 1-0.

Nawalka said he felt responsible for the team failing to meet expectations at the World Cup, and did not do a very good job choosing the players.

He has coached Poland since November 2013.