Christophe Berra Scotland lose to Italy in Malta


Scotland were comfortably beaten by Italy, with the only saving grace that the margin of defeat could have been greater.

Southampton’s Graziano Pelle scored the only goal of the match, which Italy dominated from start to finish.

Scotland offered little as an attacking force and struggled to keep possession on an unforgiving surface in Malta.

The Italians adapted to that much better as they continued their preparations for Euro 2016.

While Antonio Conte’s side would have been expected to control the game – played in Malta because the Italians are holding a week-long training camp there ahead of Euro 2016 – the ease with which they brushed their Scottish counterparts aside should be of concern to Gordon Strachan.

Pelle’s goal was scant reward for their dominance but highlighted the Italians’ superior quality.

Daniele De Rossi sliced through the Scots team with a typically precise pass for Eder and when the ball broke off the striker to Pelle, he curled a shot inside the left-hand post of David Marshall from 19 yards.

It was a deadly strike and Scotland were fortunate Italy had failed to capitalise on a string of earlier chances to bury their opponents.

Indeed, Marshall was scarcely called into action after an excellent double-save as early as the seventh minute.

Having pushed away an Antonio Candreva free-kick, which bounced nastily in front of him, he reacted brilliantly to keep out Emanuele Giaccherini’s close-range rebound.

Giaccherini was the main culprit in terms of passing up chances as he skied one shot when picked out unmarked 12 yards out and then stabbed wide after getting on the end of another pinpoint De Rossi pass.

Incredibly, the Scots failed to hit the target over the entire 90 minutes, but could have had an ill-deserved equaliser with 12 minutes remaining.

A slack clearance from Federico Bernardeschi fell kindly for Steven Naismith and although he was able to find Matt Ritchie, the Bournemouth forward could not wrap his left foot around the ball sufficiently and only managed to hit the side-netting.

Strachan had been certain before the match his players would be motivated to play a team of Italy’s quality, but for the most part the gulf in class made for a tough learning experience for Scotland.


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