Ven­tura blames in­ex­pe­ri­ence for black­out

Ramos knee prob­lem heaps more in­jury pain on Madrid

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ITALY coach Gi­ampiero Ven­tura blamed in­ex­pe­ri­ence for a sec­ond­half black­out which left his team on the brink of a shock de­feat to rank out­siders Mace­do­nia in a World Cup qual­i­fier yes­ter­day.

Mace­do­nia, trail­ing 1-0 at half­time, scored two goals in three min­utes and had two clear chances to score a third shortly af­ter­wards as Italy dra­mat­i­cally fell apart.

The four-times world cham­pi­ons looked lost and could barely string two passes to­gether un­til two goals from Ciro Im­mo­bile res­cued the Ital­ians and gave them a 3-2 win.

“For 10 min­utes, we stopped be­ing a team, but then we were once again the Italy that ev­ery­one knows and we got this re­sult,” said Ven­tura, who re­placed An­to­nio Conte as coach af­ter Euro 2016.

“We made mis­takes borne out of in­ex­pe­ri­ence, but that is some­thing you have to ac­cept with a group of young play­ers.”

The win puts Italy level on seven points with group lead­ers Spain who they trail goal dif­fer­ence af­ter three games.

Ven­tura, a 68-year-old who is widely re­spected in Italy but has never won a ma­jor ti­tle in a long, much-trav­elled coach­ing ca­reer, said he still had con­fi­dence in his play­ers.

“It’s un­likely that we will keep mak­ing these mis­takes, all we can do is im­prove,” he said. “We have to be our­selves from now on. But with this group of lads, we have the pos­si­bil­ity to do well.”

Veteran goal­keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon de­scribed the game as “very strange.” “We took the lead but we didn’t ad­min­is­ter this well be­cause we gave away too many scor­ing chances, and that’s a mis­take we don’t usu­ally make,” he said.

“The good thing was the re­sult, we have been re­warded for play­ing with heart and soul al­though it was maybe more than we de­served.

“At times we make mis­takes, so that some games that seem easy on pa­per be­come com­pli­cated.” – Reuters REAL MADRID’S in­jury cri­sis wors­ened yes­ter­day when in­flu­en­tial de­fender Ser­gio Ramos was forced off in Spain’s 2-0 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing win away to Al­ba­nia with a knee strain that could side­line him for up to a month. The cen­tre­back re­ceived treatment on the pitch af­ter fall­ing awk­wardly while con­test­ing a cor­ner but was sub­sti­tuted by coach Julen Lopetegui in the 80th minute. “Ser­gio’s in­jury looks like a strain and we hope that’s all it is but the doc­tors are the ones who have to de­ter­mine what it is. He’s a very im­por­tant player for us and his club,” the coach told a news con­fer­ence. Ramos will un­dergo fur­ther tests when he re­turns to the Span­ish cap­i­tal to de­ter­mine the ex­tent of his in­jury. Al­though Ramos has en­dured a stum­bling start to the sea­son, con­ced­ing four penal­ties for club and coun­try, his ab­sence will be keenly felt by Real and coach Zine­dine Zi­dane, who has re­cently been with­out Brazil­ian duo Marcelo and Casemiro and mid­field mae­stro Luka Mo­dric. The former Real great has also faced se­ri­ous crit­i­cism for the team’s stut­ter­ing run of four con­sec­u­tive draws in all com­pe­ti­tions, which cul­mi­nated in a shock 11 draw at home to Eibar last Sun­day. Ramos is likely to miss Real’s La Liga games against Real Betis, Ath­letic Bil­bao, Alaves and Leganes and two Cham­pi­ons League group games with Le­gia War­saw. He is also doubt­ful for Spain’s World Cup qual­i­fier with Mace­do­nia on Nov 12 and friendly ver­sus Eng­land on Nov 15. Marcelo is set to re­turn from his calf in­jury to face Betis on Satur­day but Casemiro, cred­ited with bal­anc­ing the team last sea­son and help­ing Real set a joint record 16 straight league wins, is not due back un­til the end of Oc­to­ber as he re­cov­ers from a frac­tured fibula. Real’s Croa­tia mid­fielder Mo­dric, nurs­ing a knee prob­lem, is not ex­pected to re­turn un­til the start of Novem­ber. – Reuters

AFPPIX

Italy’s An­drea Belotti (left) vies with Mace­do­nia’s Daniel Mo­jsov (right) dur­ing the FIFA World Cup 2018 qual­i­fy­ing match at Philip II of Mace­don sta­dium in Skopje yes­ter­day. –

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