Ten-man Italy get Ventura-era off to winning start

AFP - [email protected]
Ten-man Italy get Ventura-era off to winning start

Italy, reduced to 10-men, got their 2018 World Cup qualifying off to an impressive start by defeating Israel 3-1 in-front of a sold-out Sammy Offer stadium in Haifa on Monday.


The victory marked new Italian manager Giampiero Ventura's first win as Azzurri boss.
He said: "I won't say our performance was perfect, as we conceded that goal similar to the one we let in against France (in last week's friendly)."
The 68-year-old manager added: "We worked as a team, suffered as a team and won as a team."
Italy stunned the home crowd when Shandong Luneng forward Graziano Pelle tapped in a goal past helpless Israeli keeper Dudu Goresh in the 14th minute.
In the 31st minute, Italy won a controversial penalty when Israeli defenderBen Bitton knocked Giacomo Bonaventura to the ground.
Antonio Candreva converted the penalty.
After Italy dominated possession in the first 35 minutes, Israeli winger Tal Ben Haim scored a beautiful chip to give Israel a fighting chance.
Israel started the second half full of confidence and threatened Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon several times.
Israel were given renewed hope when Italy were reduced to 10 men in the 55th minute, veteran defender Girgio Chiellini picking up his second yellow card of the evening.
It was the Italian defender's first red card in 90 appearances for the Azzurri.
The sending off revitalised the Israeli crowd and brought hope that they could cause a huge upset.
Israel continued to attack before an Italian fast break in the 83rd minutesealed the deal when Ciro Immobile scored to give the visitors a decisive lead.
Immobile, 26, looked ahead to next month's clash with Spain, said: "We're in a complicated group and unfortunately only the top team goes through. These trips can be complicated, but we got there and have the full three points.
"The fans need to keep cheering us on the way they did during the Euros and we'll give our all to reach the World Cup. It's an honour to play with the Italy jersey."
Despite the disappointing result, Israel captain Eran Zahavi said he was proud of the performance.
"I think maybe we deserved a little more in this game ."We had a brave National Team that took risks and didn't give up."
Former Southampton forward Pelle, who also scored against France last Thursday, congratulated his teammates on a fantastic result despite being down to 10-men.
"As usual, Italy are always ready when the game actually counts for something. We had an extra few days to work with the coach and his wonderful staff.
"We knew that we had to remain fully concentrated, as the fans fired up the hosts and it is a tough arena to play in, but we proved we fight to the end even a man down."
In the next batch of qualifiers in October Italy tackle Spain in Turin while Israel travel to Skopje to face Macedonia.


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