Flares fail to stop Italy

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PALERMO: Italy sur­vived some first-half scares on the way to a 20 win over Al­ba­nia in a World Cup qual­i­fier marred by crowd trou­ble caused by away fans on Fri­day.

A Daniele De Rossi penalty and Ciro Im­mo­bile header gave Italy three points in Group G as their vet­eran goal­keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon made his 1,000th se­nior ap­pear­ance.

De Rossi had to wait to take his penalty when two fire­crack­ers were thrown onto the pitch by Al­ba­nia fans be­hind the goal.

The match was then in­ter­rupted for nearly 10 min­utes in the sec­ond half as Al­ba­nia fans set up more fire­crack­ers, cre­at­ing a cloud of smoke over Buf­fon’s penalty area. The match re­sumed af­ter the Al­ba­nia play­ers ap­pealed to their sup­port­ers for calm.

Italy are level on 13 points with Spain at the top of the group al­though their ri­vals lead on goal dif­fer­ence.

Al­ba­nia’s de­feat left them with six points and fur­ther dented their hopes of a first-ever World Cup fi­nals ap­pear­ance.

“We didn’t set­tle quickly enough but af­ter the 30th minute, Buf­fon didn’t have any­thing to do,” said Italy coach Gi­ampiero Ven­tura.

“It was not an ex­traor­di­nar­ily ex­cit­ing per­for­mance tonight but we have taken an­other small step for­ward.”

Al­ba­nia coach Gianni De Bi­asi said he was “re­ally up­set” about the fire­work in­ci­dents.

“I saw a dif­fer­ent side to the Al­ba­nian fans, some­thing I hadn’t seen in my years here,” said the Ital­ian.

“It... hurt to see those scenes and I never thought I’d see that from the Al­ba­nian sup­port­ers.” Reuters

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