Player Ratings: Italy 2-0 Albania
Marco Verratti provided a dominant display in midfield to drive Italy to a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Albania in Friday evening’s World Cup qualifier at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
The Azzurri took maximum points to keep pace with Spain in Group G thanks to a Daniele Re Rossi penalty after just 12 minutes, with Ciro Immobile’s second half header securing the win.
Gianluigi Buffon had a stress-free game in his 1000th senior appearance while Antonio Candreva and Davide Zappacosta combined to provide a constant threat to Albania’s defence down the right hand flank.
Gianluigi Buffon – 6 – Clean
Celebrating his 1000th senior appearance, it was a relatively quiet match for the veteran goalkeeper, who was never really tested and showed a clean pair of hands for the full 90 minutes.
Mattia De Sciglio – 5.5 – Quiet
Did his job when called upon but had a relatively quiet game, largely overshadowed by his compatriot on the right side of defence.
Leonardo Bonucci – 5.5 – Standard
Wasn’t as effective on the ball as he can often be but a relatively solid defensive performance in a straightforward game at the back.
Andrea Barzagli – 6 – Effective
Strong in clearing the Azzurri lines from set-pieces, while his aggression in defence was the catalyst for an opportunity to Belotti late in the first half.
Davide Zappacosta – 6.5 – Dangerous
Provided a constant threat down the right flank, linking well with Antonio Candreva, launching a number of dangerous runs and providing a fantastic cross to the back post for Italy’s second goal.
Marco Verratti – 7 – Heartbeat
A constant battler in the heart of the Azzurri midfield. Won back the ball on numerous occasions, showed strong individual skills to retain possession, produced some key passes forward and made a number of strong runs towards the box. Made it difficult for the Albanians on both ends of the pitch.
Daniele De Rossi – 6.5 – Solid
Scored Italy’s opener and his 20th international goal by calmly converting a 12th-minute penalty. Was strong when called upon in defence and, despite not being successful with his finishes, was able to muscle his way to opportunities off set pieces.
Lorenzo Insigne – 5.5 – Introverted
Quiet for much of the first half and certainly not the unreserved attacking force he has been for Napoli. Grew more into the match in the second half, floating a couple dangerous balls into the box though failed to deliver the goods from his free kicks.
Andrea Belotti – 6.5 – Threat
Looked a danger to the Albanian defence from the outset and his decisive run off a Candreva free-kick won Italy a penalty, leading to De Rossi’s opener. Drew a number of fouls, acted as a constant pest in the box and also worked hard for his teammates. An effective and mature performance from the ‘Rooster’.
Ciro Immobile – 6.5 – Decisive
Managed to find space in the attacking third though was unlucky not to receive effective service in the first half. Though took the opportunity when presented to kill off the game in the second half, heading back across the goal from Zappacosta’s cross, giving the goalkeeper no chance.
Antonio Candreva – 6.5 – Provider
Linked well with Zappacosta on the right side of attack while providing many of Italy’s most dangerous opportunities from set pieces. His corners were consistently hit into the right area and his early free kick led to Belotti being brought down in the box.