Published: Thu, May 31, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Balotelli Showed Italy His Worth With Goalscoring Return

Balotelli Showed Italy His Worth With Goalscoring Return

He dug out an emphatic opener to assert Italy's authority over Saudi Arabia - even if it is the Green Falcons and not Italy who will compete in Russian Federation following the Europeans' failed qualifying campaign. When you play against a stronger side, the performance will probably be higher, but our problem against France will be maintaining intensity over 90 minutes.

"Balotelli can do better, much better, but I thought he did pretty well in the first half".

"I think we did good things this evening, having lots of shots on goal, moving the ball quickly and that went well".

Lionel Messi was the central figure in Argentina's friendly win over Haiti, as he scored a hat-trick and set up their other goal in a 4-0 win in Buenos Aires. "Saudi Arabia are a long way behind us in the ranking, but they are preparing for the World Cup right now and that's not to be taken for granted". Balotelli found a way through with a low drive under the outstretched arms of Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais for his 14th goal in 34 appearances.

An Alessio Romagnoli bicycle kick flew just wide with Domenico Criscito rattling the the crossbar.

And the 24-year-old Torino striker scored the second when he turned in a rebound ten minutes later.

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Yahya Al-Shehri pulled Saudi Arabia back into the game four minutes later taking advantage of defensive error by Davide Zappacosta.

It was his first goal for Italy since the 2014 World Cup group stage, when he scored the victor against England on June 14, 2014. "Although they are not in the World Cup, they have a great coach, an unparalleled history".

Belotti told Rai Sport: "Satisfied with the desire we showed to start again".

His return comes as Italy try and rebuild from a failed World Cup qualification campaign.

As Italy prepare to face Saudi Arabia on Monday, France (June 1) and Netherlands (June 4), Bonucci praised the 27-year-old for his maturity.

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