Italy face Macedonia, need point


Spain sealed its place in the 2018 World Cup as Group G victor after storming to a 3-0 win over Albania on Friday with a ruthless first half display, while nearest challenger Italy was held to a 1-1 draw by Macedonia.

The Azzurri barely got out of second gear against stubborn visitors, but took a first-half lead through Giorgio Chiellini.

"The second half was disappointing", Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura said. "It was a bad game, we need a bit more belief in ourselves, but we are all keen to play and give our all".

"We have young players who are growing and hope to do even better in future".

Italy is now second in Group G with 19 points, just three points back of first-place Spain.

Spain have qualified top of Group G after thrashing Albania 3-0 to book their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

It could be assured of a playoff berth on Saturday if Bosnia doesn't beat Belgium.

Failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 would certainly bring a swift end to his tenure.

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On the whistles he faced as the tide turned against Italy in Turin, Ventura added: "Italy should never be whistled, the team represents all of us".

"We lacked that conviction and confidence that you always need on the pitch because that gives you the certainty in your movements".

Italy's head coach, Giampiero Ventura has slammed the display of his side in the 1-1 draw against Macedonia.

Italy finally broke the deadlock five minutes from halftime from an unlikely source.

Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne combined cleverly on the edge of the Macedonia area to allow the latter to break through a static defence and force Stole Dimitrievski into a smart save.

It was nearly 1-1 moments later, after a slack Leonardo Bonucci pass gave away possession on the edge of the box, but Chiellini forced a corner.

Macedonia will likely sit deep and look to soak up Italian pressure, but the hosts should have more than enough to breach any rearguard action.

That came in the 77th minute as Trajkovski, who plays for Italian second-division side Palermo, fired a through ball from Goran Pandev into the far side of the net.