Croatia cruised 6-0 in Kosovo. Spain held 1-1 by Italy, Wales draw 2-2 in Austria

Italy managed to battle out a 1-1 draw at home to a lively Spain on Thursday in Turin, in a high-profile World Cup qualifier.

Spain dominated from start to finish and went ahead through Vitolo in the 54th minute after a rare blunder from Italy's veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

However, Daniele De Rossi levelled for the hosts eight minutes from time from a disputed penalty.

"We paid for the tension that some of our players felt," Italy coach Giampiero Ventura said.

"When we got the ball we lost it in two seconds. Then the anxiety died down and when we pressed we created chances to level and possibly win.

"They had a lot of possession. The goal came as it came, but beside that there were no great saves from Buffon. I think it was a great showing from my footballers."

Spain enjoyed 68-per-cent possession but lacked a cool finish in Turin, with Gerard Pique missing two good chances in the first half - and with Vitolo squandering a perfect opening to make it 2-0 and seal the win 15 minutes from the end.

From then on, Italy finally came out of their defensive shell, but even so needed a dubious penalty - for an alleged trip by the clumsy Sergio Ramos on Eder - to go level.

The hosts could have snatched an unlikely winner in a frenetic finale, with Spain hanging on for dear life and cursing themselves for their deficient finishing.

"To come here to Italy and dominate as we have done tonight is something very creditable," Spain midfielder Koke said.

"In the end, the result is not wonderful for us, but we leave in fairly good heart, knowing that we should really have won."

The draw left Spain and Italy joint second in qualifying Group G with four points apiece from their two games, with surprise package Albania top on six after a 2-0 win in Liechtenstein.

In the group's other game, Israel won 2-1 in Macedonia.

Spain have a tricky trip to Albania on Sunday while Italy visit Macedonia.

Meanwhile in Group D, Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales were held 2-2 in Austria, and Ireland edged Georgia 1-0 on a goal from Seamus Coleman.

"I expected Georgia to run us close. If they had a natural goalscorer in their team they could cause teams lots of problems. It was very difficult indeed, they had by miles the better of the first half and then we came into it," Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said.

"Seamus Coleman came up with a wonder run and a goal ... The players have a great desire to do well. We needed a spark at half time and they got themselves going. We can play much better than that."

Meanwhile in Austria, Wales twice went ahead, on an early strike from Joe Allen followed by an own goal from Kevin Wimmer, only for Marko Arnautovic to twice level for the hosts.

"We have to be honest and say we'll take that point tonight. It wasn't our best performance, we know that but Austria are a very good team at home. To take three points we needed to be at our very best in every department but we weren't," Wales manager Chris Coleman said.

"If you can get something when you are not at your best it is a good sign. We made trouble for ourselves, that's not like us. We can play a lot better but we can't fight any harder than that. They never shied away from a challenge."

Curiously, Wales, Austria, Ireland and Serbia are all tied on four points, with Serbia winning 3-0 in Moldova.

Croatia cruised 6-0 in Kosovo in Group I, with an early hat-trick from Mario Mandzukic, while Iceland came from behind to edge Finland 3-2 - thanks to late goals from Alfred Finnbogason and Ragnar Sigurdsson - and Ukraine were held 2-2 in Turkey.

Croatia and Ireland top the group with four points apiece. 

Last update: Thu, 06/10/2016 - 23:47
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