<
>
2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Tal Ben Haim II (35')
  • Graziano Pellé (14')
  • Antonio Candreva (31' PEN)
  • Ciro Immobile (83')
  • Giorgio Chiellini (55')

Italy control Israel for comfortable win; Giorgio Chiellini sent off

Ten-man Italy claimed a hard-fought win in Israel in their opening World Cup qualifier -- but the three points came at a cost.

Graziano Pelle's goal and Antonio Candreva's penalty had Giampiero Ventura's visitors two up after half an hour of the Group G clash and, even after conceding before the break and then having Giorgio Chiellini harshly sent off shortly after it, they never looked like losing control.

Ciro Immobile, a second-half substitute, sealed the victory with an emphatic finish seven minutes from time.

Chiellini's dismissal, though, could be keenly felt as it means the defender will be suspended for Italy's heavyweight meeting with Spain, the side they beat in the last 16 of Euro 2016 and who opened their qualifying campaign with a thumping 8-0 over Liechtenstein, in Turin next month.

Maccabi Tel Aviv winger Tal Ben Haim had got Israel back into the match with a glorious chip 10 minutes before half-time, but, despite playing with an extra man for much of the second period they could not get an equaliser.

Italy welcomed back Leonardo Bonucci in defence after he missed Thursday's friendly defeat to France due to personal reasons, but midfielder Daniele De Rossi was out injured.

They went in front after 14 minutes when Luca Antonelli received the ball in far too much space in the left of the area and slid it across for Pelle, arriving at the near post, to stab home from close range.

It was two on the half-hour when Giacomo Bonaventura won a penalty and Candreva found the bottom right corner, with goalkeeper David Goresh going the wrong way.

But the hosts were back in it five minutes later.

A glorious chip from winger Ben Haim on the right edge of the area left Gianluigi Buffon stranded as it dropped into the far top corner to halve the deficit.

Citadin Eder almost restored Italy's two-goal cushion on the stroke of half-time, but his header was brilliantly tipped round by a post by Goresh.

Nir Bitton's long-range effort was parried by Buffon as Israel threatened at the start of the second half and there was more good news for the home side in the 55th minute when Chiellini saw red.

The rugged defender, booked in the 28th minute, picked up a second yellow after he was ruled to have knocked over Tomer Hemed, although replays showed the incident looked more like a collision than anything and the sending-off was very harsh.

It was the Juventus man's first red card on his 90th cap for his country.

Israel probed in search of a leveller, but in truth never came close to getting one as the Italians restricted them largely to long-range efforts.

And the visitors killed the contest in the 83rd minute when Immobile, a 70th-minute replacement for Eder, brushed his defender off the ball on the right of the area before lashing a fine low shot across Goresh and into the far corner.