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Sep 3, 2015 at 7.45pm UK


Pelle (69')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Result: Italy leave it late to beat Malta

Graziano Pelle's goal is the difference as Italy beat Malta 1-0.

Graziano Pelle's goal 20 minutes from time was the difference as Italy beat Malta 1-0 in Florence to move level with Croatia at the top of Euro 2016 qualification Group H.

Italy started quietly, and didn't carve out a clear chance until Pelle headed Andrea Pirlo's corner inches over the top of goal on 20 minutes.

However, it was Alfred Effiong that almost got his name on the scoresheet first when he charged forward and curled an effort narrowly wide of goal.

The hosts finished the first half the stronger side, though, and could have been ahead when Eder's mazy run ended with a shot that flew just wide of goal.

Pirlo's clever free kick teed up Matteo Darmian shortly after the restart, and the Manchester United defender's cross was almost bundled home by the Sampdoria forward.

Manolo Gabbiadini drilled a 25-yard strike against the underside of the bar as Antonio Conte's side stepped up the pressure, and Pelle fired into the side-netting from Marco Verratti's pass.

Pelle then got the goal his side needed when he turned home substitute Antonio Candreva's cross from close range.

The result leaves Italy with 15 points from their seven games in Group H.

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Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio of Italy look on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match against Costa Rica on June 20, 2014
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