Italy pegged back by lowly Luxembourg
Azzurri head to World Cup in Brazil without a win in seven games
Claudio Marchisio (right) with his teammate Daniele De Rossi of Italy celebrates scoring against Luxembourg in Perugia. Photograph: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Italy 1 Luxembourg 1
Lowly Luxembourg tore up the script with a late equaliser in a 1-1 friendly draw with Italy on Wednesday that wrecked the four times World Cup winners’ hopes of a triumphant send-off to Brazil.
Defender Maxime Chanot stunned the home crowd in Perugia with a bullet header from a corner five minutes before the end that cancelled out Claudio Marchisio’s smart ninth minute opener.
Italy are traditionally poor in friendlies and have a formidable tournament record but the draw against a side thumped 5-1 by Belgium last week meant that the Azzurri head for Brazil without a win in seven games.
Prandelli’s side looked extremely uncomfortable defending against setpieces, an unusual characteristic for any Italy team that will give England heart ahead of their clash.
“We have to improve in defence, we weren’t great but we are still going to the World Cup knowing we can win,” Prandelli told RAI Sport.
Marchisio thumped home the opener after Mario Balotelli laid on a delicious cross with the outside of his boot to leave the Juventus man an easy headed finish. But that was as good as it got for the home side, who hit the bar twice early in the second half after substitute Antonio Cassano came off the bench and put a spark into an otherwise drab match.
AC Milan striker Balotelli then played in his second perfect cross of the night, but Antonio Candreva again hit the bar.
A series of substitutions failed to lift Italy and Chanot punished their complacency by powering home from an inswinging corner and giving Luxembourg their best result against Italy in nine international meetings.