Wednesday 17 January 2018

Pelle hits Italy winner against Scottish flops

Southampton striker Graziano Pelle notched the only goal early in the second half. Photo: Getty
Southampton striker Graziano Pelle notched the only goal early in the second half. Photo: Getty

Jamie Holland

Scotland failed to register a shot on target as they fell to a 1-0 friendly defeat against Italy in Malta.

Southampton striker Graziano Pelle notched the only goal early in the second half but Scotland would have been on the end of a heavier defeat if Emanuele Giaccherini had shown more composure when presented with several clear chances.

Scotland took almost 78 minutes to produce their one and only effort at goal - Matt Ritchie shooting wide from 18 yards.

Belgium continued their preparations for Euro 2016 by beating Switzerland 2-1 in Geneva on Saturday.

Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne struck for Marc Wilmots' side as they came from behind to secure the win.

After Blerim Dzemaili had put Switzerland ahead on the half-hour mark, Lukaku equalised before the break, turning home a cross from Dries Mertens.

Switzerland had chances to go ahead again after the interval but it was the Belgians who grabbed victory as Kevin De Bruyne scored with a dipping effort seven minutes from the end.

Belgium's next game is against Finland on Wednesday.

Sweden, Ireland's other Group E opponents, are in action this evening when they host Slovenia in Malmo.

A second-string Germany side suffered a 3-1 warm-up washout to Slovakia yesterday as heavy rain threatened to force the encounter to be scrapped in the second half.

The Slovaks recovered from a goal down, scored by forward Mario Gomez from the penalty spot, to win the friendly thanks to goals from Marek Hamsik, Michal Duris and Juraj Kucka.

Gomez put Germany ahead after 13 minutes.

Marek Hamsik found far too much space, with central defender Jerome Boateng hesitating at the edge of the box, and unleashed a fierce shot past keeper Bernd Leno after 41 minutes.

Michal Duris' glancing header at the near post two minutes later put Slovakia, who have been drawn in Group B along with England, Russia and Wales, ahead.

Heavy rain and lightning delayed the start of the second half by about 20 minutes as Leno made way for Marc-Andre ter Stegen in Germany's goal.

Spain's Nolito scored his first international goals to set an experimental side on the way to a 3-1 friendly win over feisty Bosnia, who had Emir Spahic sent off before half time yesterday.

Nolito, earning his seventh cap, put Spain ahead in the 11th minute when Edin Dzeko's headed clearance landed at his feet and he curled the ball in off the far post.

The Celta Vigo player struck again eight minutes later with a delicate chip over keeper Asmir Begovic from inside the area.

Bosnia Bosnia reduced the arrears just before the half hour when Spahic outjumped Marc Bartra at a corner to head home before Pedro completed the win for the Spaniards when he snapped up a rebound with the last kick of the game.

Irish Independent

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