Pelle gets the chop for his little strop
ITALY forward Graziano Pelle has been kicked out of the national squad over his angry reaction to being substituted against Spain when he refused a handshake from coach Giampiero Ventura.
The Italian football federation (FIGC) said that the 31-year-old had been excluded from the squad which will travel to Skopje to face Macedonia in their Group G World Cup qualifier tomorrow.
Pelle, who has already apologised for his tantrum, was taken off on the hour after an ineffective display in the World Cup qualifier which ended in a 1-1 draw on Thursday.
“The coach, in agreement with the FIGC, has decided to exclude Graziano Pelle... for disrespectful behaviour when he was substituted,” the FIGC said. “To be part of the national team involves the sharing of values which are worthy of the national team, starting with respect towards the staff, teammates and fans.”
Ventura had appeared to play down the incident even before the former Southampton player, who is now based with Chinese club Shandong Luneng, had apologised.
“Pelle was angry, I think this was not so much because of the substitution as the way we had played up to that point,” he said. “It’s part of football, it’s something I’ve seen many times in my career. But when you wear the Italy shirt, you need to be careful.”
Pelle admitted on Instagram that he had “messed things up”: “It was unacceptable behaviour, firstly against the coach and also, towards my teammates, who have always shown me to have important values in this fantastic Italy group we belong to. Like any great mistake, I accept the consequences. And it is only right that I take responsibility. I must ask offer my apologies from my heart to everyone.”
Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was also prepared to forgive and forget, he said before Pelle was excluded.
“He’s a great guy and in the cold light of day, I’m sure he will realise he was wrong,” he said. “If he apologises for his behaviour, we will be happy to embrace him. It was wrong but these things happen in such tense matches.”
● Wales midfielder Joe Allen is likely to miss tomorrow’s Group D World Cup qualifier against Georgia with a hamstring injury, manager Chris Coleman has said.
Allen, who scored Wales’ opening goal in Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Austria, was withdrawn early in the second half. They will also be without Aaron Ramsey at the Cardiff City Stadium.
● Argentina were held 2-2 by Peru in their 2018 World Cup qualifying clash, their second successive away draw without injured talisman Lionel Messi, which dropped them to fifth in the South American group.
Ramiro Funes Mori put Argentina ahead after 15 minutes but was responsible for Peru’s late penalty equaliser that was converted by Christian Cueva.
In between, Peru’s Paolo Guerrero equalised early in the second half and Gonzalo Higuain restored Argentina’s lead in the 77th minute.
After nine matches, the halfway point in the South American qualifiers, Uruguay top the table with 19 points followed by Brazil on 18 and Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina all on 16. Peru climbed to eighth with eight points.
● Brazil hammered Bolivia 5-0, giving coach Tite his third successive win in the most convincing performance from the five-time world champions for some time.
Bolivia had not won a World Cup qualifier away from home since 1993 but Brazil were still excellent, particularly in the first half, when they scored four of their five goals.
Neymar opened the scoring after just 10 minutes when he dispossessed Ronaldo Raldes on the halfway line and then worked a one-two with Gabriel Jesus.
Philippe Coutinho doubled their lead 15 minutes later when he capitalised on great work from Giuliano and Dani Alves.
Filipe Luis started the move for the third in his own half and after feeding Neymar, got the return pass and slotted the ball inside the near post.
Gabriel Jesus gave them a 4-0 lead before halftime when he deftly chipped Neymar’s pass over Carlos Lampe.
Roberto Firmino scored the fifth from a corner. – Reuters
GRAZIANO PELLE: ‘Messed things up’