European champions Italy claimed the bronze medal in the UEFA Nations League with a 2-1 victory over Belgium on Sunday afternoon.
UEFA Nations League
Result: Italy 2-1 Belgium
Date: 10 October 2021
Venue: Allianz Stadium
The Red Devils were without Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard due to injury while Kevin De Bruyne was only name on the bench, meanwhile, the Azzurri also opted to drop Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne.
Domenico Berardi came close to giving Italy the lead in the 18th minute with a deflected strike from outside the box that had shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois scrambling but the Belgian ultimately produced a good reflex save.
Roberto Martinez's charges were getting into the game after that and Alexis Saelemaekers came the closest to breaking the deadlock for them in the 25th minute with a curling strike inside the box towards the bottom corner that came off the crossbar.
The game was flowing in the closing phase of the first stanza and Federico Chiesa had a glorious chance to give Italy the lead on the stroke of half-time after a through ball over the top but Courtois made a crucial save with the tip of his trailing foot, in a one-on-one and the first stanza ended without goals.
The Azzurri had a perfect start in the second stanza after Nicolo Barella broke the deadlock two minutes from the half-time break with a sweet low volley inside the box after latching onto a rebound from a corner.
Charles De Ketelaere had an immediate impact after coming on the in the 60th minute, as he teed up Michy Batshuayi inside the box, who cracked the underside of the crossbar with a strike from a tight angle imediately thereafter.
The Azzurri won a penalty in the 63rd minute after Chiesa was brought down, which allowed Berardi to double their lead with a clinical strike from 12 yards out.
Afterd Yannick Carrasco cracked the upright, De Ketelaere pulled a goal back three minutes before time after slotting a low strike in between the legs of shot-stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma, but it wasn't enough as the Azzurri held on to claim a podium finish in third place.
Here are the nominees for the 2021 Ballon d'Or award: