With Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku already having returned home and the national team coach Roberto Martinez having decided to rest Kevin De Bruyne, several key players were missing from Sunday’s line-up. Hans Vanaken started the match in midfield with Mich Batshuayi up front as striker.
A finely-balanced first half ended goalless. However, playing in front of their home crowd, Italy made a dream start to the second half scoring after just one minute of play through Nicolo Barella. Italy’s second goal came on 65 minutes when Domenico Berardi scored from the penalty spot.
The European Champions retained their two-goal lead for another 21 minutes. However, the Belgian substitute Charles De Ketelaere’s (photo above) 86th minute goal proved to be too little, too late. The match ended 2-1 in Italy’s favour.
The final four of the Nations League has left the Red Devils with a bitter taste in their mouths. After Thursday’s dramatic 2-3 defeat at the hands of France our national team’s dreams of taking a trophy were already shattered. Sunday’s result adds insult to injury as it is the first time that Belgium has lost two consecutive games under Roberto Martinez.
The Red Devils will now have to focus on their last two World Cup qualifiers next month. On 13 November Belgium takes on Estonia in Brussels. Three days later the Red Devils travel to Cardiff for their final qualifying game against Wales.