Silva sinks insipid Italy
Andre Silva scored the only goal as European champions Portugal -- without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo -- got their Nations League campaign off the mark with a 1-0 win over Italy in Lisbon on Monday.
Ronaldo had been left out of the squad at his own request to focus on his new Italian club Juventus. But the Euro 2016 winners showed no sign of missing their star striker, dominating the Italians to secure their first three points in a Group 3 that also includes Poland.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini suffered his first competitive setback after being held by Poland 1-1 in their opener on Friday in Bologna, with the Azzurri on one point after two games.
"We made too many mistakes, but the boys gave everything," said Mancini. "We need to find a solution to scoring goals because you don't win games without scoring. That's our main problem right now.
Silva scored three minutes into the second half, collecting a Bruma cross to beat his former Milan teammate Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Italy goal.
Italy had been fortunate to keep their goal clear in the first half, largely thanks to Donnarumma, as Portugal dictated play in the Estadio Da Luz.
Italy struggled to create chances, apart from a Zaza header that went wide 12 minutes from time, as Portugal claimed their ninth straight home win. The four-time world champions now 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 and Inter Milan coach. "We must help the youth grow, as we don't have alternatives."