MX23RW : Sunday, September 23 12:44:14
Oct 13, 2014 at 7.45pm UK
Malta
0-1
Italy

Briffa (41')
Mifsud (27')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Pelle (23')
Darmian (43')
Bonucci (73')

Result: Graziano Pelle guides Italy to three points

Graziano Pelle's first international goal guides Italy to a 1-0 victory over Malta.

Graziano Pelle scored the only goal of the game as Italy recorded a 1-0 victory over Malta on a night when both sides were reduced to 10 men.

Italy were on top from the first whistle, and came close to taking the lead inside the opening minute when Ciro Immobile struck an effort just wide from the edge of the box.

Despite being forced onto the back foot for long spells, Malta could have been ahead had Clayton Failla's deflected shot crept into the bottom corner.

The visitors would improve as the first half progressed, but there were signs that it could have been a frustrating evening as Pelle and Giorgio Chiellini both hit the woodwork with powerful headers.

However, it was Pelle who made the breakthrough as the Southampton striker took advantage of confusion inside the Malta box to fire home his first international goal.

Graziano Pelle of Italy celebrates after scoring the first goal during the EURO 2016 Group H Qualifier match against Malta on October 13, 2014© Getty Images

Italy were handed another boost later in the first half when Malta captain Michael Mifsud was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Alessandro Florenzi.

Antonio Conte almost saw his side double their lead with a stroke of luck after the break when Antonio Candreva's cross clipped the top of the crossbar.

Immobile would go close once again a few moments later as his header from close range tested the reactions of Andrew Hogg in the Malta goal.

Malta were handed a lifeline when Leonardo Bonucci threw away his side's numerical advantage by bringing down Andre Schembri, who had threatened to punish a weak header from Chiellini.

However, the hosts were unable to apply any pressure on Italy, who looked comfortable in the closing stages as they secured all three points.

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Graziano Pelle of Italy celebrates after scoring the first goal during the EURO 2016 Group H Qualifier match against Malta on October 13, 2014
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Live Commentary: Malta 0-1 Italy - as it happened
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