World Cup qualifiers: Italy scrape past Albania to secure playoff spot

Category fnvuqolh

first_imgItaly scraped past Albania 1-0 in its last World Cup qualifier, another poor effort which will do little to inspire confidence in coach Gian Piero Ventura and his team.Italy was already guaranteed second spot and a playoff berth from Europe Group G, and Antonio Candreva’s second-half goal ensured it of top-seed status in the draw.The Azzurri finished five points behind Spain, which won in Israel 1-0. Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the match between the two bottom sides in the group.”I didn’t celebrate when Candreva scored, it seemed right that we were in front, but I was happy, above all for the lads,” Ventura said. “We have some limitations at the moment but today there was the desire to try and do things.”These were the aims that we set ourselves before. We took another small step forward but we continue to give the ball away. … But I’m happy for them, this is a good group, with a few limitations because of certain absences.”Italy and Ventura came under fire on Friday following a dismal 1-1 draw at home to Macedonia.Without injured key players such as Claudio Marchisio, Daniele De Rossi, Marco Verratti and Andrea Belotti, Ventura opted to employ an experimental 4-2-4 formation in Shkoder.However, the Italian visitors struggled to create anything of note and Ciro Immobile had their only shot on target of the first half but it was saved by goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.Italy was denied what looked a clear cut penalty shortly before halftime when Eder’s cross was stopped by the arm of Freddie Veseli but the referee waved off Azzurri appeals.advertisementAlbania grew in confidence and almost scored just after the hour mark but Gianluigi Buffon reacted well to parry Eros Grezda’s swerving effort – and then shouted in fury at Italy defender Davide Zappacosta.Italy broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when Leonardo Spinazzola put in a precise cross from the left to the far post for Candreva to fire into the roof of the net.SHAKY CROATIA ENTER PLAYOFFSStriker Andrej Kramaric struck two superb second-half goals to grab second spot in Group I for Croatia and a place in the playoffs, as they beat Ukraine 2-0 in their final World Cup qualifier in Kiev on Monday.Having sacked manager Ante Cacic and replaced him with Zlatko Dalic after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday, the Croatians still looked shaky, winning two corners in the first two minutes but doing little else in the opening half.Needing a win to grab second place in the group, the home side took control, wasting two great chances around the half-hour mark, with Taras Stepanenko driving a powerful shot outside the post and Yevhen Konoplyanka heading just wide moments later.The first half finished scoreless and there was little to suggest that Croatia had any chance of breaking the deadlock until Kramaric gave them the lead with their first effort on target.Luka Modric delivered a pinpoint cross from the right and the striker sent a powerful downward header into the corner of the net in the 62nd minute.With just four points from their last four games amid some poor performances, the goal did little to settle the Croatian nerves as the Ukrainians pressed forward in an attempt to get back in the game.Instead, Kramaric scored again in the 70th minute, this time ghosting in at the far post to rifle a deep ball from Ivan Rakitic into the goal to the obvious relief of his team mates.(With Reuters inputs)last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *