The Azurris of Italy defeated Azerbaijan with a 3-1 victory in their Group H Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday at the Tofiq Behramov Stadium, Baku courtesy of goals registered by Eder, Stephan El Shaarawy and Matteo Darmian.
opened the net for the Italians in the 11th minute, as the Italian striker held his nerve to slot a neat finish under the goalkeeper, following a lovely through ball into the penalty area from Marco Verratti.
It didn’t take long before the Azeri’s equalized, after Dimitrij Nazararov put the ball beyond Gianluigi Buffon in the 31st minute to give hope to the East Europeans at home.
Stephan El Shaarawy silenced the home crowd in the 43rd minute, after great play from the visitors via a fantastic interchange of passes between Antonio Candreva and Eder that delivered the ball on a platter of gold to the AC Milan striker who’s on loan at AS Monaco.
Matteo Darmian put the icing on the cake with the third goal in the 65th minute, after he unleashed a 30 yards shot that didn’t give the Azeri goalkeeper any chance. It was game over for the hosts and Antonio Conte’s men maintained the lead in their group for Euro qualification in France next summer.
Salt was added to injury as Badavi Guseynov got marching orders from the referee, after he fouled Sebastian Giovinco on a goal bound effort towards the Azeri net.
At this juncture, the centre referee Scotsman Willie Collum brought proceedings to an end, where the Italians are one leg into the the tournament that represents the Holy Grail of European football.
Azerbaijan starting line-up: Ageyev; Medvedev, Huseynov, R.F. Sadiqov, Dasadamirov; Ismayilov, Israfilov, Qarayev, Amirquliyev, Nazarov; Qurbanov.
Italy starting line-up: Buffon; Darmian, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Sciglio; Candreva, Verratti, Parolo, El Shaarawy; Pelle, Eder.