Published On: Fri, Mar 24th, 2017

Italy 2-0 Albania: Azzurri seal points despite Albanian crowd disruption

Italy secured a 2-0 win over Albania at Palermo’s Stadio Renzo Barbera on Friday evening, despite the game being temporarily suspended due to flares being thrown by the away supporters.

Daniele De Rossi and Ciro Immobile were on hand to see Giampiero Ventura’s Azzurri over the line, though their dominance throughout is not reflected by the two-goal margin.

Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th professional appearance almost got off to the worst possible start; Albania could and probably should have gone ahead within a minute, but Sokol Cikalleshi dragged his close-range shot wide of the Juventus No.1’s goal.

Moments later, Odise Roshi had another effort for the visitors, but Buffon had the comfort of watching his effort bounce wide.

Italy’s early nerves were settled, however, just after 10 minutes when the Azzurri were awarded a penalty for a foul on Andrea Belotti as the Torino forward looked to meet an Antonio Candreva cross. After a short pause to clear flares from the pitch, De Rossi stepped up and duly converted beyond Thomas Strakosha.

Despite the lead, the Azzurri failed to grasp the game in the remainder of the first half, and Albania remained a threat. Belotti had the two best chances to add to the scoring, having first found himself on the end of a corner, but his header could only be directed off target.

As the interval approached, Il Gallo found himself close to doubling Italy’s lead again. Making his way into the box, Belotti drove a powerful shot at goal, but fortunately for the visitors it was quite central, allowing Strakosha to turn the effort over the crossbar.

It was Belotti again who threatened goal as the second half got underway. After winning a corner, the Toro forward got on the end of the delivery, only to head wide once more.

Ventura’s frustration will have grown within moments, ad Candreva fizzed a fierce cross into the box, only to see it go straight across the goalmouth with no Azzurri shirt attacking it.

As Italy sought to increase the pressure on Albania, Immobile had two chances to strike. His first drew a superb block from Arlind Ajeti, before he was crowded out by a wall of red shirts a few minutes later.

Another corner this time found De Rossi free, but like Belotti, the Roman couldn’t find the target with his header.

Nearing the hour mark, the referee temporarily took the players off and suspended the game as Albanian supporters threw flares onto the pitch again, leaving the home end completely covered in smoke.

After a 10-minute stoppage, the game resumed. Candreva and Leonardo Bonucci came close to doubling the Azzurri lead before Immobile eventually did.

A deep cross from Davide Zappacosta was too high for his club teammate Belotti to reach, finding Immobile at the back post who headed home.

The result leaves Italy as they were before the game, level on 13 points with Spain at the top of Group G.

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