Pelle gets the chop for his lit­tle strop

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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’

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