Italy vs Macedonia UEFA World Cup Qualifying



Italy remained second in Group G, five points behind Spain, and can't be caught heading into the last round of European qualifiers.

Italy have 20 points in Group G and their hopes of reaching Russian Federation now rest on finishing as one of the best eight runners-up who progress to the playoff round from the nine European groups.

"At this point we need a psychological turning point". In the second half we weren't as aggressive, but that doesn't mean we lacked confidence.

"There is still a game to play, then we'll tackle the playoffs".

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Victory would have assured Gian Piero Ventura's side of another chance to qualify behind group victor Spain, but it was unable to see out a win in Torino.

Italy failed to click after halftime and were given a first warning when Gianluigi Buffon had to smother a header from Ilija Nestorovski.

On the whistles he faced as the tide turned against Italy in Turin, Ventura added: "Italy should never be whistled, the team represents all of us".

On the occasion of his 172nd cap, he told Sky Sport Italia: "The favourite sport at this time of year is to criticise the coach, but I think a team like this and players like us should be winning these games anyway and it doesn't depend on the coach".

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Macedonia, clearly not content to sit back and soak up pressure, carved out an excellent opportunity of their own 10 minutes later, but Goran Pandev's crisp volley was well held by Buffon.

"Players like me who have been here for 20 years need to find a way to drag the other boys forward so we can give Italy the best chance of getting to the World Cup".

Macedonia's positive second-half display was rewarded 13 minutes from time when Trajkovski latched onto Pandev's throughball to fire an unstoppable shot past Buffon into the bottom-left corner.

"That made a big difference and when that drops, the sharpness goes", he said. We have to show more determination on the pitch, we want to go to Russian Federation.

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Spain cruised to a 3-0 win over Albania on Friday to secure qualification for the World Cup and put Italy on a path for the playoffs.

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