Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Conte defends Italy after ‘scant’ Azerbaijan win

CHIELLINI-AZERBIJANMILAN, October 11- Italy coach Antonio Conte rejected criticism of his side following a “scant” 2-1 win over Azerbaijan that sent the Azzurri top of Group H in Euro 2016 qualifying ahead of an away clash with Malta on Monday.

Italy dominated Berti Vogts’ visitors throughout a one-sided encounter in Palermo on Friday but had to rely on a late header from Giorgio Chiellini to claim all three points from their second group match.

Indeed Chiellini’s name was the only one on the scoresheet, the Juventus defender having opened the scoring on 44 minutes before putting into his own net from an Azerbaijan corner with 14 minutes left.

Faced with dropping two precious points, Conte later deflected criticism having seen strikers Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile, midfielder Claudio Marchisio and defender Leonardo Bonucci all come close to scoring in a busy first half.

The former Juve handler insisted Italy, who were man-marked for long periods of the game, more than deserved the win.

“Overall, it was a bit of a scant victory but we more than deserved the win,” said Conte, who succeeded Cesare Prandelli in the summer following the Azzurri’s disastrous first round exit from the World Cup.

“They had almost 10 men man-marking. They scored without having any real shots on goal and we came back in fantastic fashion.”

The Stadio Barbera had yet to see a win this season amid promoted Palermo’s poor start in Serie A and Italy missed several great opportunities before breaking the deadlock on the cusp of half-time. 

Juventus midfieler Andrea Pirlo, who made his return from a long injury lay-off in time for a 3-2 league win over Roma last week, swung in a corner that goalkeeper Karam Agayev misjudged, allowing Chiellini to power home a header from six yards.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Azerbaijan had lost 2-1 to Bulgaria last month and were content to defend en masse and strike on the counter whenever possible.

Still, Italy laboured to build on their lead. Early in the second half Sassuolo striker Simone Zaza notably went close with a stunning overhead kick from just inside the area and as legs tired Conte made a series of decisive changes.

Pirlo was replaced by Alberto Aquilani with 17 minutes remaining but disaster struck on 76 minutes when Chiellini turned the ball into his own net after Gianluigi Buffon failed to get his hands to a corner that caused mayhem in the box.

Further changes saw midfielder Matteo Darmian replaced by Antonio Candreva and Sebastian Giovinco come on in place of Alessandro Florenzi and minutes later Giovinco found the breakthrough when he delivered for Chiellini to flick a glancing header past the rooted Agayev.

Giovinco should have made it 3-1 but saw his looping drive from Marchisio’s through ball smack off the crossbar.

Giovinco later indicated that his lack of starting appearances for Juventus in recent seasons meant he would be “considering” his options before his contract expires in June.

Conte, meanwhile, defended his decision to send the diminutive striker on late in the game: “Giovinco was supposed to replace Zaza, then they (Azerbaijan) scored.

“Sebastian knows how to beat players one-on-one, he adds something extra when he comes off the bench and he has a keen eye for goal.

“I don’t gift appearances to anyone. Giovinco played because he deserved to.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Malta coach Pietro Ghedin, once part of Italy’s managerial staff under Cesare Maldini, Dino Zoff and Giovanni Trapattoni, said last week he is brimming with condfidence ahead of Monday’s clash at the Ta’Qali Stadium.

Malta on Friday suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Norway.

Click to comment


  1. sky light

    November 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    TxTImpact : Text voting or SMS polling enables you to vote by text. Create multiple choice questions with any number of choices or open end response. Allow organizations to create fun interactive engaging Text voting campaigns. All incoming mobile number are recorded and available for future text message alerts. You can limit votes per participants. You can set start and end datetime of polls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


More on Capital Sports


NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – There is light at the end of the tunnel. After failed promises over the last three years since its...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Kenya’s history making Daniel Adongo, the first Kenyan to play in America’s National Football League (NFL), is now living...


NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – Olympic Champion Caster Semenya and wife Violet Raseboya have hinted that they might be expecting a baby in a...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – DStv and GOtv subscribers are in for a treat of the world’s best football this week as the 2020-21...

© 2022 Capital Digital Media. Capital Group Limited. All Rights Reserved