Team's growth over result: Mancini

LISBON • Portugal rested Cristiano Ronaldo and still overcame a new-look Italy 1-0 in their opening Nations League match on Monday, with visiting coach Roberto Mancini admitting that his side made too many mistakes.

Sevilla striker Andre Silva scored three minutes after half-time in the League A Group 3 game to give the Portuguese their first win over Italy in a competitive match since 1957.

Mancini, in only his second competitive match in charge, made nine changes to the team which started Friday's 1-1 home draw with Poland, but his side were on the back foot for most of the match and struggled to create any chances.

"We made too many mistakes, but the lads gave everything," said the Italian. "We need to find a solution to scoring goals because you don't win games without scoring. That's our main problem right now.

"I didn't enjoy the defeat, but I did like the team's desire to try right until the end, even if they were at risk of conceding a second goal."

Italy, who missed out on this year's World Cup for the first time in 60 years, are without a win in four competitive matches.

Portugal's Andre Silva (front) celebrates his goal with team-mate Joao Cancelo in their Nations League Group 3 game against Italy on Monday. The Sevilla striker's goal proved to be the winner. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The four-time world champions also risk being relegated from their Nations League group, but Mancini defended his experimental side.

"We don't like losing, but it's also true that we have to take risks and get experience in these games, otherwise it's hard to move forward quickly," said the former Manchester City coach.

"We must help the youth grow, as we don't have alternatives.

"We would like to finish first in the group, you never know in football. We will see what happens, our starting goal is to qualify for the European Championship."

Portugal, who agreed to give their record scorer Ronaldo time to adapt following his move to Juventus from Real Madrid, lead the group with three points, ahead of Poland and Italy on one each.

The Portuguese will next play in Poland on Oct 11, with Italy again facing the Poles on Oct 15.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Team's growth over result: Mancini'. Print Edition | Subscribe