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

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.

The lacklustre showing against a side ranked 112th in the world will have given coach Cesare Prandelli cause for concern ahead of their opening Group D match against England on Manaus on June 14th.

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.

The Parma attacker’s first act after replacing Marco Verrati 10 minutes after the break was to slip in Balotelli, who then hit the bar with Chanot and goalkeeper Anthony Moris on their backsides.

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.

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