Monday 10 October 2016, 10:20

Belotti: We showed the great courage of Italy

Andrea Belotti and Gigi Buffon hailed Italy’s heart following their dramatic 3-2 victory in FYR Macedonia. The 22-year-old striker broke the deadlock in Skopje, but the hosts scored two quick-fire goals and threatened more before Ciro Immobile’s brace, which he completed in stoppage time, secured La Nazionale all three points.

“We suffered up to the last minute,” Belotti said. “We were facing a difficult side, as Macedonia put everyone behind the ball and went on the counter. Fortunately we fought back and got three fundamental points.

“I scored my first goal on my first start, so I’m happy, but to be honest I’m happier that Italy got the result in this long road to the World Cup. We were frightened at one point, but just like against Spain, we showed the great courage of Italy.”

Buffon, who made one tremendous save to deny Macedonia going 3-1 up, suggested the result flattered Italy.

“It was a very strange game,” said the 38-year-old. “We took the lead but didn’t then control proceedings, allowing our opponents too many scoring opportunities. That’s something we don’t usually do.

“Other than the result, we can take from this the fact we always give our heart and soul, which perhaps sometimes gives us better results than we deserve. We now have seven points after three matches, and that is something to build on.”

The result left Italy second in Group G, behind Spain on goal difference. Their final FIFA World Cup™ qualifier in 2016 is away to Liechtenstein on 12 November, while Spain host Macedonia.