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Italy 2-1 Hungary: Azzurri seal narrow win

Two first-half goals helped Italy get back to winning ways with a home victory against Hungary.

Highlights: Italy 2-1 Hungary

First-half goals from Nicolò Barella and Lorenzo Pellegrini set Italy on their way to a narrow victory at home to Hungary in Cesena.

Key moments

30' Barella opens scoring with fine strike
45' Pellegrini doubles lead
55' Politano thumps crossbar
61' Mancini slices cross into own net

Match in brief: Italy edge to Hungary win

Both keepers were forced into smart stops in the first half-hour, Dénes Dibusz pushing away Gianluca Mancini's header before Gianluigi Donnarumma thwarted Hungary's Roland Salli.

Nicolò Barella is mobbed by his team-mates after opening the scoring
Nicolò Barella is mobbed by his team-mates after opening the scoring Getty Images

But the deadlock was broken in style when Leonardo Spinazzola rolled the ball across the edge of the area to Barella, whose shot was too powerful for Dibusz to keep out.

Pellegrini almost set up Wilfried Gnonto for a second, but moments later scored himself, turning in Matteo Politano's pass.

Politano struck the crossbar early in the second half, but when Italy did find the net for the third time, it was at the wrong end as Mancini diverted Attila Fiola's cross into his own goal. There was to be no further score as Italy claimed their first win of this UEFA Nations League campaign.

As it happened: Italy 2-1 Hungary

Paolo Menicucci, match reporter

Italy deservedly earned the three points after a good performance against a strong Hungary side in Cesena. The Azzurri were brilliant at times, building very good attacking moves with quick passes between the forwards.

Roberto Mancini encourages his players
Roberto Mancini encourages his playersGetty Images

Roberto Mancini's men seemed to be in complete control after the goals from Barella and Pellegrini, going close to a third when Politano hit the bar. Hungary, however, never gave up and forced Italy to hold on for the final whistle following the other Mancini's unfortunate own goal.


Roberto Mancini, Italy coach: "We played a good game, especially in the first half. Their goal, however, created us some fear and pressure in a game we should have won by a bigger margin. Both teams were a bit tired at the end."

Marco Rossi, Hungary coach: "In the second half the team played better. We lost but we must be aware of who we are: we cannot think of coming here to win or to draw easily, Italy are the champions of Europe and a team made up of almost all players who play in Serie A."

Alessandro Bastoni, Italy defender: "Hungary had recently defeated England and played well at UEFA EURO 2020, so we know they are a very good team. At international level, all matches are difficult. We also proved that we can battle together and that's a good sign. We had many opportunities to score the third and fourth goals – we did not do it but we still did well at defending our lead."

Donnarumma joy at Italy's 'fresh start'

Key stats

  • Pellegrini scored exactly one international goal in each of the last three calendar years – he has now scored two this week.
  • Hungary were beaten for just the second time in their last 11 UEFA Nations League matches (W6 D3).
  • Italy have kept only one clean sheet in their last eight international matches.
  • Italy are unbeaten at home in the league phase of the UEFA Nations League (W2 D5).


Italy: Donnarumma; Calabria, Mancini, Bastoni, Spinazzola (Dimarco 75); Pellegrini (Locatelli 66), Cristante, Barella (Tonali 84); Politano (Belotti 75), Gnonto, Raspadori (Zerbin 84).

Hungary: Dibusz; Lang, Orbán, Attila Szalai; Négo (Fiola 58), Á Nagy (Styles 58), Schäfer (Vancsa 87), Z Nagy (Bolla 81); Sallai, Szoboszlai; Ádám Szalai (Ádám 87).

What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?

UEFA via Getty Images

The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023 with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June.

The teams finishing fourth in the groups in League A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.

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