After coming to halt, Italy moved back on the road to World Cup qualification with an important 1-0 win. Ciro Immobile’s goal settled things in a win which consolidates Italy’s grasp on second place on 19 points, three points behind Spain but further ahead of Albania with the play-offs approaching.
Bonucci’s suspension and Spinazzola’s injury forced Ventura to change the defence with the formation remaining the same from the Spain match. Buffon was in goal. Conti was a new face on the right with Astori in the centre of defence alongside Barzagli. Darmian moved onto the left. De Rossi and Verratti made up the midfield with Immobile and Belotti the strike partnership supported by Candreva on the right and Insigne on the left.
Italy had the task of bouncing back after defeat in Madrid and getting back on track in qualification by securing second. Israel may not be at Spain’s level as they had lost three straight matches and they were without their main star Zahavi for disciplinary reasons.
The Azzurri started with the right intentions. After just 47 seconds, Belotti had a chance which he dragged wide. Israel clogged up space well and defended their goal with authority and they also created chances of their own with Buffon making a good save in the 41st minute.
Italy struggled as they did in the reverse leg which finished 3-1. They were able to finish the first half with an Insigne chance from point-blank range but Harush did well to save with his left foot. The Azzurri started the second half on the front foot. Ventura’s side created two dangerous chances in three minutes with the first falling for De Rossi and the second for Immobile. Zappacosta came on for Conti in the 49th minute. It was Immobile who opened the scoring in the 53rd minute as he attacked Candreva’s accurate cross from the right at the far post to head home.
Italy looked more focused, authoritative and determined after going ahead and were camped outside the Israel area. After Zappacosta won the ball back in the 65th minute, Italy went extremely close three minutes later as Belotti’s header was saved by Harush. The Azzurri continued to apply pressure with Barzagli looking for his first Italy goal and Belotti had a further two sights of goal. Italy risked conceding in the 86th minute from a Ben Chaim counterattack but Buffon was alert to make the save. In the final minutes, Bernardeschi came on for Candrreva and Montolivo for Verratti and then arrived the final whistle.