A woeful Italy luckily took three points from Albania at the Loro Boriçi Stadium with Antonio Candreva bagging the only goal of the game in the Azzurri’s final World Cup qualification match.
Fresh from an embarrassing draw with Macedonia in Turin on Friday evening, coach Gian Piero Ventura has come under fire from many quarters over the Azzurri’s recent displays.
As a result, Italy resorted to Ventura’s preferred 4-2-4 with Lorenzo Insigne and Candreva either side of Eder and Ciro Immobile, a change to the 3-4-3 formation deployed at the Stadio Grande Torino.
Not that it mattered as Italy were lacklustre for the majority of the game, with Albania fashioning the much more dangerous opportunities before Candreva struck 73 minutes in.
Le but du 1-0 pour l'Italie de la part de Candreva ! ???????? pic.twitter.com/X3pSzdssCz
— Inter Milan FR (@InterMilanFRA) October 9, 2017
It was the home side who started on the front foot, Elseid Hysaj testing Gianluigi Buffon from distance though the Italian No.1 was equal to the shot.
Next up, Armando Sadiku and Eros Grezda combined well on the edge of the area, with the latter forcing a good low save from Buffon.
Italy’s only shot on target in the opening 45 minutes came as Frederic Veseli missed a simple clearance allowing the ball to run through to Ciro Immobile, but his strike was straight at the chest of Etrit Berisha.
After the break, the Azzurri’s misfiring forward line were unable to trouble Berisha.
First Eder fired with, then Candreva cut in from the right only to drag his effort the wrong side of the post.
A 3v3 counter attack eventually saw Eder balloon over, with Marco Parolo doing the same from 20 yards out.
Grezda almost put Albania ahead as his rocket moved in midair and Buffon had to readjust before making a fantastic stop.
Just as Albania were having a good period of pressure, a Leonardo Spinazzola cross found Candreva unmarked at the back post and he smashed into the roof of the net.
Albania tried to get back on level terms, but were unable to beat Buffon in the final moments of the game.