Manuel Locatelli and Domenico Berardi played decisive roles for Italy on Wednesday evening as the Azzurri beat Bosnia 2-0 to clinch top spot in League A Group 1 of the UEFA Nations League to reach the competition’s final four.
Locatelli played a part in the first and assisted the second, which Berardi finished to cap off a fine performance.
Andrea Belotti got Italy in front with a fine finish in the first half, but Il Gallo’s touch was just the last on what was a very good Azzurri attack.
It all started in midfield with Locatelli fighting to keep hold of the ball before sending Lorenzo Insigne into Bosnia’s half on the left. Reaching the box, the Napoli forward whipped an exquisite ball into Belotti’s path, allowing him to, at full stretch, turn it into the top corner.
Both Emerson Palmieri and Belotti came close to doubling Italy’s lead in the same incident. A deep cross from Nicolo Barella narrowly evaded the wing-back’s head and the Torino forward didn’t have enough time to react afterward, leaving him unable to tap into an open goal.
Bosnia could have levelled as half time approached but Gianluigi Donnarumma did well to save from Smail Prevljak, after Alessandro Bastoni had been turned by the forward.
Insigne came close to a second seconds later. Berardi and Barella linked up fluidly on the right before the latter switched to Insigne, but his trademark curling effort coming in off the left fell just wide.
Two of Italy’s backline linked up in the Bosnia box on the hour mark for what could have been a second goal. Emerson slipped Francesco Acerbi through but the centre-back’s low effort went wide of the far post.
Twice during the second half the referee approached Italy’s bench. The first occasion saw him warn the coaching staff for bemoaning his officiating, while the second was to show a yellow card to substitute Alessio Romagnoli while he was warming up without a pink bib.
Sassuolo’s two internationals linked up for a stunning second. Locatelli dinked a delightful ball over Bosnia’s backline for club teammate Berardi, who had timed his run to perfection, and the forward volleyed home a low first-time effort.
Insigne teed up substitute Federico Bernardeschi late on but the winger’s strike crashed back off the crossbar. Insigne himself came close in the 90th minute.
The win secured top spot for the Azzurri and booked their place in the Nations League’s ‘final four’.