Gianluigi Buffon’s penalty save enabled Italy, who also had Leonardo Bonucci, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo among their ranks, to claim a valuable point following a 1-1 Euro 2016 qualifying draw away at Group H leaders Croatia in Split on Friday evening.
The hosts were awarded a spot-kick only six minutes into the match after Davide Astori’s trip on Darijo Srna, with Mario Mandzukic subsequently seeing his effort from 12 yards thwarted by a fine Buffon stop.
However, the Atletico Madrid forward didn’t have to wait long for his next chance, firing the home side ahead on 11 minutes, 60 seconds after Stephan El Shaarawy had seen a goal ruled out for the Azzurri.
But Antonio Conte’s men rallied and drew themselves level from the penalty spot on the half-hour mark, Antonio Candreva coolly chipping in past Danijel Subasic following Mandzukic’s handball in the area.
Buffon was then replaced at the break with a cut on his knee, but apart from an Ivan Perisic long-range strike that flew wide, substitute goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had little to do during the second-half.
Even though late drama ensued when Croatia captain Srna was sent off in the closing stages for a second bookable offence, the visitors were unable to capitalise on their one-man advantage and the game finished 1-1.
Friday’s result in Split leaves Italy two points behind leaders Croatia in Group H with four matches to play and the Azzurri will now travel to Geneva where they play Portugal in a friendly on Tuesday 16 June at 20.45 CEST.
Tonight sees Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba’s France face off against Albania in an exhibition match at the Elbasan Arena from 18.00, with Sami Khedira’s Germany then set to play minnows Gibraltar in a Euro 2016 qualifier later in the evening.
And finally, Argentina kick off their Copa America Group B involvement when they take on Paraguay in La Serena at 22.30. Juventus duo Roberto Pereyra and Carlos Tevez are in line to feature for last year’s World Cup runners-up at the Estadio La Portada.