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Italy back in contention among elite

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Belgium bundles England out of the competition; Wijnaldum’s star turn for the Netherlands

Three years after an embarrassing failure to qualify for the World Cup, Italy is back in contention with the best in Europe.

England, meanwhile, is already out of contention for the Nations League finals with one round of matches still to play.

An Italy squad badly hit by the coronavirus still managed to beat Poland 2-0 on Sunday, putting the Azzurri in control of its group, while England was beaten 2-0 by top-ranked Belgium.

In all, more than 20 Italy players were unavailable due to the virus and injury.

Jorginho converted a penalty for Italy midway through the first half after Andrea Belotti was brought down inside the area. Domenico Berardi added another goal late in the second half after collecting a pass from Lorenzo Insigne.

Italy leads Group 1 in League A with nine points. The Netherlands is next with eight points after beating Bosnia 3-1. Poland is still in contention with seven points, while Bosnia trails with two.

Dries Mertens scored a superb free kick as Belgium ended England’s hopes of reaching the finals.

Belgium took the lead 10 minutes in when Romelu Lukaku set up Youri Tielemans for a deflected shot.

Mertens made it 2-0 in the 24th by expertly curling his kick over the English wall — which mostly failed to jump — after Kevin De Bruyne was fouled.

Frank de Boer finally has his first win as Netherlands coach after Georginio Wijnaldum scored a swift brace to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Wijnaldum, captain in the absence of his injured Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk, tapped in from close range in the sixth and 14th minutes to set up the win.

The results:

League A: Group 1: the Netherlands 3 (Wijnaldum 6, 14, Depay 55) bt Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 (Prevljak 63); Italy 2 (Jorginho 27-pen, Berardi 84) bt Poland 0.

Group 2: Denmark 2 (Eriksen 12-pen, 90+2-pen) bt Iceland 1 (Kjartansson 85); Belgium 2 (Tielemans 10, Mertens 24) bt England 0.

League B: Group 1: Austria 2 (Schaub 81, Grbic 87) bt Northern Ireland 1 (Magennis 75); Romania v Norway – postponed.

Group 2: Slovakia 1 (Gregus 32) bt Scotland 0; Czech Republic 1 (Darida 7) bt Israel 0.

Group 3: Turkey 3 (Karaman 26, Under 32, Tosun 52-pen) bt Russia 2 (Cheryshev 11, Kuzyaev 57); Hungary 1 (Kalmar 39) drew with Serbia 1 (Radonjic 17).

Group 4: Bulgaria 1 (Iliev 68) lost to Finland 2 (Pukki 7, Lod 45+1); Wales 1 (Brooks 67) bt Republic of Ireland 0.

League C: Group 2: North Macedonia 2 (Trickovski 29, Stojanovski 68) bt Estonia 1 (Sappinen 52); Georgia 1 (Qazaishvili 65-pen) lost to Armenia 2 (Ghazaryan 33, Adamyan 86).

Group 3: Moldova 0 lost to Greece 2 (Fortounis 32, Bakasetas 41); Slovenia 2 (Kurtic 63, Ilicic 90+4-pen) bt Kosovo 1 (Muriqi 58).

Group 4: Albania 3 (Cikalleshi 16, Ismajli 23, Manaj 63) bt Kazakhstan 1 (Kuat 25); Belarus 2 (Yablonski 5, Ebong 20) bt Lithuania 0.

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