Graziano Pelle's decisive goal
Italy beats Malta only 1-0 in a match where the Maltese side interpreted a good defensive display making Italy’s offensive formation find it difficult to overcome the defence and score. Graziano Pelle scored on his debut in the 26th minute after a confusion in the penalty box with the ball getting into the legs of Graziano Pelle’ who had to pass the ball towards an empty net. This is the 7th Italian victory in 7 matches against Malta, and Antonio Conte established a new record, the first Azzurri coach to win the 1st 4 matches. But these statistics do not make Antonio Conte happy, because of Italy’s display, especially the lack of goal scoring opportunities. Against the 155th classified in the Fifa rankings, a lotwas expected from the Italian squad, considering the fact that they were coming from a disappointing 2-1 win over Azerbaijan, who were trashed by Croatia 6-0 tonight. In fact, Italy’s playing style was very slow and predictable and the Maltese took advantage from this situation because they could re-organize themselves well in the defence.
The ‘Azzurri’ never dominated the match despite hitting the post twice which may give the impression that Italy controlled the match. Malta played a 3-5-2 defensive formation, which made the fullbacks marking Italy’s wingers, their main threat. In addition to this, Malta played for around 60 minutes with 10 men after Michael Mifsud was severely sent off. In the last minutes, Bonucci was also sent off after obstructing Andre Schembri, and now he will miss the super clash against Croatia who are at the top of the group with them.
Malta 0-1 Italy
Malta (3-5-2): Hogg ; Agius, Camilleri, Zach Muscat; Paul Fenech, Mintoff (27' 2ndhalf Baldacchino), Failla (48' 2nd half Bezzina), Briffa, Rowen Muscat; Mifsud, Schembri(40' 2ndhalf Cohen). Substitutes: Haber, Vella, Grioli, T.Vella, Kristensen, R. Fenech, Pisani, Scicluna, Farrugia. Coach. Ghedin.
Italy (3-5-2): Buffon; Darmian, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Florenz (14' second half Aquilani), Verratti, Marchisio, Pasqual; Pellé (31' second half Ogbonna), Immobile(20' secondhalf Giovinco). Substitutes: Sirigu, Perin, Ranocchia, De Sciglio, Parolo, Poli, Pirlo, Destro, Zaza. All. Conte.
Referee: Hategan (Romania)
Scorers: 23' Pellé
Booked: Briffa (M); Darmian (I)
Sent-off: 26' Mifsud (M), 28' second half Bonucci (I)