Az­zurri slowly get­ting there: Ven­tura

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

A NAR­ROW, last-gasp win at Mace­do­nia kept Italy on pace to se­cur­ing a place at the 2018 World Cup, with fans ready­ing for plenty of suf­fer­ing in most of the seven re­main­ing qual­i­fiers.

Good news, how­ever, came on Sun­day from Ciro Im­mo­bile, who com­pleted a brace in stop­page time af­ter An­drea Belotti opened the scor­ing with his first goal for the Az­zurri in a heated 3-2 win.

As they did on Thurs­day in Turin, ral­ly­ing to draw 1-1 with Spain, the Az­zurri had to get in trou­ble be­fore switch­ing to se­ri­ous ac­tion, this time man­ag­ing to re­verse a 2-1 deficit in the last half hour – strik­ing twice in two min­utes.

Italy have seven points from three games in Group G, sit­ting sec­ond on goal dif­fer­ence be­hind Spain.

Only first place gives di­rect ac­cess to the World Cup in Rus­sia, while eight sec­ond-placed from the nine Euro­pean groups go into play-off ties.

In Skopje, coach Gi­ampiero Ven­tura was seen fu­ri­ously scream­ing but also help­lessly shak­ing his head as the Az­zurri blanked out around the hour, suf­fer­ing un­der the hosts’ swift counter-at­tacks.

He blamed mo­ments of “in­ex­pe­ri­ence and care­less­ness” on a squad that started with five play­ers aged less than 25.

Play­maker Marco Ver­ratti and Fed­erico Bernarde­schi dis­ap­pointed in mid­field, and at the back Mat­tia De Sciglio and Alessio Ro­mag­noli strug­gled along­side vet­er­ans An­drea Barza­gli and Leonardo Bonucci.

Over­all, good marks only went to the 22-year-old Belotti and Im­mo­bile, 26. Both have also been ef­fec­tive in do­mes­tic ac­tion – Belotti net­ting five goals for Torino and Im­mo­bile four for Lazio.

The pair, who played to­gether un­der Ven­tura at Torino, look set to re­place Eder and Graziano Pelle, who was dropped from the squad af­ter re­fus­ing to shake hands with Ven­tura when subbed in Turin.

Most com­men­ta­tors agreed with Ven­tura as he noted that “there was a great re­sponse in terms of char­ac­ter” and that his squad “are get­ting there slowly.”

But the Az­zurri’s per­for­mance was gen­er­ally deemed dis­ap­point­ing and close to a colos­sal poor fig­ure.

“In the end we took home three points play­ing with our soul and heart,” said goal­keep­ing cap­tain Gian­luigi Buf­fon.

“These days we are be­ing re­warded gen­er­ously. Ev­i­dently we de­serve it.”

Italy play their next qual­i­fier at Licht­en­stein on Nov 12; three days later they wel­come Ger­many in Mi­lan for a high-pro­file friendly. – dpa

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.