Lack­lus­tre Italy held at home by stub­born Ro­ma­nia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BOLOGNA: Italy con­ceded a late goal to draw 2-2 with Ro­ma­nia in an in­ter­na­tional friendly on Tues­day, as doubts re­mained about their ti­tle-win­ning cre­den­tials ahead of Euro 2016.

The home side fell be­hind to Bog­dan Stancu’s eighth-minute opener dur­ing an unin­spir­ing first half, but equalised af­ter 55 min­utes when Clau­dio Marchi­sio scored a penalty af­ter Eder had been brought down by Dra­gos Grig­ore.

Ro­ma­nia have not lost since June 2014 and, de­spite go­ing 2-1 be­hind when sub­sti­tute Manolo Gab­bia­dini scored his first Italy goal with a close-range header in the 65th, they ex­tended their un­beaten run when Florin An­done equalised in the 88th minute af­ter an er­ror from goal­keeper Sal­va­tore Sirigu.

The visi­tors, urged on by pock­ets of Ro­ma­nian supporters around the ground, poured for­ward in the dy­ing stages as they looked to se­cure an un­likely vic­tory, but a shell-shocked Italy held on to avoid their sec­ond de­feat in a week.

“We are dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t win be­cause of a goal con­ceded two min­utes from time,” An­to­nio Conte told Rai Sport. “We were tense at the start be­cause we con­ceded so early and then as time wore on shook it off.

I’m con­vinced the lads gave their all, played with in­ten­sity, tempo and did ev­ery­thing needed to win.”

The Ital­ian de­fence was ex­posed in Fri­day’s 3-1 friendly loss away to Bel­gium, and An­to­nio Conte’s side were again un­cer­tain from the start. Gian­luigi Buf­fon made a smart save to thwart Gabriel Torje early on but the Az­zurri fell be­hind mo­ments later when Stancu stole the ball af­ter a de­fen­sive mix-up be­tween Mat­teo Darmian and An­drea Barza­gli on the edge of the box and ri­fled home.

Italy have of­ten been drab and unin­spir­ing un­der Conte’s lead­er­ship and, with­out mid­field­ers An­drea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Marco Ver­ratti, they ap­peared to lack the tools to take con­trol of the game and to fash­ion dan­ger­ous chances.

The con­test was trans­formed in the fran­tic 10-minute spell at the start of the sec­ond half with Marchi­sio’s penalty and Gab­bia­dini’s maiden in­ter­na­tional goal.

How­ever, An­done’s late equaliser-com­ing af­ter Sirigu had par­ried Vlad Chiriches’s header into the for­ward’s path­was a fit­ting end to a trou­bling in­ter­na­tional week for Italy.

“I was al­ready an­gry with the re­sult in Bel­gium and once again we failed to get the re­sult we de­served,” said Conte. “Hope­fully it can be a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.” — Reuters

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