Five-star Germany run riot against Italy
Die Mannschaft ended their winless streak in the Nations League with a 5-2 thrashing of the Italians
Germany were back to their merciless best yesterday as they tore Italy apart with a scintillating display of attacking football. First-half goals from Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gundogan were complemented by a Thomas Muller strike and a quickfire brace from Timo Werner in the second half to set Monchengladbach’s Borussia Park alight. Late goals from Wilfried Gnonto and Alessandro Bastoni proved scant consolation for the Azzurri in this League A Group 3 encounter.
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 14, 2022
Hansi Flick’s side came into this game without a win in their three previous Nations League matches, drawing all three 1-1. Although Flick was unbeaten in his role so far, this was not ideal preparation for the Qatar World Cup. Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup and Roberto Mancini was giving opportunities to a lot of fringe players, but they were still top of the group before this match.
Both teams created good chances in the early exchanges. Leroy Sane sent a long-range effort just wide of the post in the 6th minute, while Giacomo Raspadori nearly converted from close range a minute later, only for Manuel Neuer to make an excellent save.
The home team went one better with the next big chance. Werner controlled a long ball inside the Italian box before laying it off to left-back David Raum. Raum’s cross was too far behind Muller, but Kimmich stole in undetected to control and finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.
Italy were restricted from creating openings by Germany. Bryan Cristante came closest with a long-range header from a Raspadori freekick that flew inches over the bar. Neuer had it covered all day long. With around five minutes left of the half, Sane found space down the middle but sent a fierce shot straight at Donnarumma.
Moments before the half-time whistle was due, Bastoni needlessly shoved Jonas Hofmann in the area. The referee pointed to the spot. Gundogan sent his penalty straight down the middle as Donnarumma dived to his left. It was a crushing blow just before the interval.
But the home side were not done, the next blow coming five minutes into the second half. A fizzing low cross by Raum from the left was only half-cleared by Leonardo Spinazzola. Muller hit the bouncing ball beautifully on the half-volley, sending it screaming past an off-balance Donnarumma.
Then, in the 54th minute, came a barely believable sequence of play, one that showed just why Manuel Neuer is called the greatest keeper of his generation. A long shot from Gianluca Caprari hit a German defender, deflecting into the path of Nicolo Barella who was through and facing an empty net. But Neuer, who had already dived in anticipation of Capari’s effort, somehow recovered to dive the other way and clawed out Barella’s shot centimetres away from the goalline. The fact that Barella was offside mattered very little. Neuer didn’t know that anyway.
Soon after, it was Werner’s time to shine. In the 68th minute, Muller played a nice one-two with Gundogan before sending a trivela pass out to the substitute Serge Gnabry, storming into the left side of the penalty box. Gnabry instantly laid the ball back across goal and Werner was on hand to slide it home.
A minute later, a horrible short pass by Donnarumma went straight to Gnabry. The ball broke to Werner who, standing on the penalty spot, could hardly miss from that sort of range. Two goals in two minutes: some way to restore confidence for a striker who had gone four straight international appearances without scoring.
With their opponents five goals to the good, the Azzurri knew they weren’t getting anything from this game. But to their credit, they still went for goal, finally scoring in the 78th minute. An angled shot from Federico Dimarco was palmed away by Neuer into the path of Wilfried Gnonto. The FC Zurich teenager tapped home for his first international goal and, aged 18 years and 222 days, became Italy’s youngest ever goalscorer.
18 & 222 – Wilfried #Gnonto (18 years and 222 days) is the youngest scorer in Italy's history, overtaken Bruno Nicolè (18 years and 259 days in 1958 v France). Youth.#GerIta #GermaniaItalia #NationsLeague pic.twitter.com/cznKiVhtbT
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) June 14, 2022
Following another fantastic Neuer save from Dimarco’s swerving long-ranger, Mancini’s men managed to grab another consolation deep into stoppage time. Dimarco sent in a corner that Bastoni met with his head and powered home at the near post. It was virtually the last kick of the game.
With this win, Germany leapfrogged Italy into second place in the group. They are a point behind Hungary, who shocked England 4-0 in the other group game yesterday. More importantly, Flick will be pleased to see that his charges have got their groove back. After a break, they will head into the international camp in September, the last one before the World Cup, with clear heads and restored confidence.