Graziano Pellè maintained his particular touch with anything Maltese as he scored the all-important goal for Italy as they returned to winning ways, defeating Scotland 1-0 at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Sunday. The Southampton striker had scored the decisive goals for Italy in the two EURO qualifiers against Malta in October 2014 at Ta’ Qali and last September in Firenze.
Italy, who were coming from a 1-4 defeat to Germany in their last outing, were clearly a better side but their finishing left much to be desired.
Graziano Pellè went close to putting Italy ahead on the 9th minute but two consecutive close range shots were blocked by Marshall. Emanuele Giaccherini hit incredibly high when served inside the area on the 23rd and two minutes later, a cross shot by Antonio Candreva from the right just missed the target with Callum Paterson clearing the ball into a corner.
The Italians finally managed to break the deadlock on the 57th minute when Daniele De Rossi intelligently sent the ball through and Eder served Graziano Pellè whose conclusion gave the Scottish goalkeeper no chance.
On the 77th minute, in the only serious goal-scoring opportunity for Gordon Strachan’s side, Steven Naismith released Christophe Berra whose conclusion just missed the target.
ITALY Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Alessandro Florenzi, Emanuele Giaccherini (80′ Giacomo Bonaventura), Daniele De Rossi (67′ Jorginho), Matteo Darmian (60′ Federico Bernardeschi), Antonio Candreva (62′ Marco Parolo), Graziano Pellè (67′ Simone Zaza), Eder (60′ Lorenzo Insigne).
SCOTLAND David Marshall, Callum Paterson (46′ Christophe Berra), Charlie Mulgrew, Russell Martin, Grant Hanley, Matty Philips (71′ Oliver Burke), Darren Fletcher, James McArthur (83′ Craig Bryson), Ross McCormack (46′ Steven Fletcher), Matt Richie, Ikechi Anya (71′ Steven Naismith).
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, William Debattista
Additional Assistant Referees: Esther Azzopardi, Fyodor Zammit
Fourth Official: Roberto Vella