Football Features

Nicolo Barella proves he’s Roberto Mancini’s talisman as Inter playmaker scores screamer to sink Hungary

By Ben Green

Published: 22:35, 7 June 2022

Nicolo Barella once again proved the difference-maker for Roberto Mancini as Italy saw off Hungary in their Group A3 Nations League match-up in Cesena.

The European champions have moved atop Group A3, ahead off Hungary, Germany and current basement dwellers England after seeing off the former 2-1, thanks to a top-drawer Barella strike and a further from Lorenzo Pellegrini, who netted his second in as many games.

With the match delicately-poised at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi, the Inter midfielder opted to take matters into his own hands and unleashed a pearler on the half-hour mark, collecting the ball from Leonardo Spinazzola before leaving Denes Dibusz with little chance.

That strike signalled Barella’s eighth goal for Italy (all under Mancini), meaning no player has found the back of the net more times than the Inter playmaker under Mancini than him, moving level with Andrea Belotti and current Capocannoniere holder Ciro Immobile.

Hungary reduced the deficit through a Gianluca Mancini own goal, but the Azzurri held out for a much-needed win in Group A3 of the Nations League. Mancini now travels with his side to Wolves’ Molineux Stadium on Saturday with momentum and the wind in their sails.

It’s the first time Italy will face off against England since they bested them at Wembley in last summer’s European Championship final, famously winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw failed to separate the nations in regulation and extra-time.

It’s set to be a tough encounter after England produced a late 1-1 comeback against Germany in the adjacent fixture this evening, but Mancini should feel confident of getting the job done against Gareth Southgate once again — particularly with his talisman Barella in midfield.