Last-gasp Biraghi strike saves Italy

Last-gasp Biraghi strike saves Italy

Italy's Cristiano Biraghi (left) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Poland on Sunday. AFP

Cristiano Biraghi snatched a late victory to give new Italy coach Roberto Mancini his first competitive victory and keep the Azzurri's Nations League hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Poland in their League A Group 3 clash here on Sunday.

Defender Biraghi, 26, slid in the winner two minutes into injury time for his first goal for Italy in a game his team had dominated. The defeat ensured Poland were relegated to League B.

It gives Mancini his first competitive victory since taking over as Italy coach last May, after the four-time world champions failure to qualify for the World Cup.

European champions Portugal lead the three-team group with six points from two games with Italy on four points after three games with Poland relegated to League B with one point.

Mancini stuck with the same eleven he started with in last Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Ukraine with Federico Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa leading the attack.

Poland opted for the strike partnership of Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik over Genoa forward Krzysztof Piatek, who has scored 14 goals in ten competitive games for club and country.

Italy had the best of the first half but once again demonstrated their difficulty finishing off.

Jorginho rattled the bar within the first minute, with Federico Chiesa also hitting the woodwork after half an hour in the Silesian Stadium.

Poland could thank Wojciech Szczesny for keeping them in the game with the under-pressure goalkeeper denying Alessandro Florenzi, Jorginho, Federico Bernardeschi and Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini in the first half.

Italy had a goal disallowed after 65 minutes following a well-worked pass between Bernardeschi and Marco Verratti with Insigne offside in the box.

Poland also had a couple of chances in the second half with Kamil Grosicki denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma, with Arkadiusz Milik curling over.

Just when it looked as if both sides would settle for a draw, off the last corner, substitute Kevin Lasagna, who made his international debut, steered in for the Biraghi to finish off.

Italy next host Portugal on November 17 with Poland playing in Portugal three days later. AFP SSC SSC

Russia win 

Goals either side of halftime by Roman Neustadter and Denis Cheryshev handed Russia a 2-0 win against Turkey in their 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 November 20. Turkey have three points.

Results: League A: Group 3: Poland: 0 lt to Italy: 1.

League B: Group 2: Russia: 2 bt Turkey: 0.

League C: Group 1: Israel: 2 bt Albania: 0; Group 4: Romania: 0 drew with Serbia: 0; Lithuania: 1 lt to Montenegro: 4.

League D: Group 3: Faroes: 1 drew with Kosovo: 1; Azerbaijan: 1 drew with Malta: 1