MX23RW : Saturday, March 23 05:30:45

Cesare Prandelli hails "extraordinary" Gianluigi Buffon

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli credits Gianluigi Buffon with an "extraordinary performance" following last night's 1-0 win over Bulgaria.

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has hailed Gianluigi Buffon's performance against Bulgaria as "extraordinary" after he helped the Azzurri inch closer to World Cup qualification.

The Azzurri survived a scare to edge Bulgaria 1-0 in their Group C clash, thanks to a strike from Alberto Gilardino.

Prandelli's men are now just three points from securing a trip to Brazil next summer, with the coach declaring that Buffon deserves much of the credit for a hard-earned victory.

He told RAI Sport: "Gigi saved the result with an extraordinary performance, so it's nice to suffer and still win. Bulgaria poured forward towards the end, they gambled it all, so it was predictable we would suffer."

"Unfortunately we had to make three changes due to injuries so it became complicated. Our fitness levels are not optimal and that makes it all much more difficult.

"We'll now try to get as many players as possible back to fitness. The Czechs are also gambling their last chips, so I warn you it is not going to be a walk in the park, but we'll give it our all too. We're fired up."

A win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday will guarantee qualification for the Azzurri, after they lost 2-1 at home to Armenia yesterday evening.


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Alberto Gilardino #11 of Italy scores his opening goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group B match between Italy and Bulgaria at Stadio Renzo Barbera on September 6, 2013
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Live Commentary: Italy 1-0 Bulgaria - as it happened
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