Flares fail to stop Italy
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