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EC Qualification

  • September 9, 2014
  • • 14:45
  • • Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo
  • Referee: M. Mažić
  • • Attendance: 26265

Norway 0-2 Italy: Zaza, Bonucci seal win for Azzurri

Norway 0-2 Italy: Zaza, Bonucci seal win for Azzurri


Antonio Conte's side started its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a win, with the defender adding to the forward's early goal.

Antonio Conte's perfect start as Italy coach continued as his side began Euro 2016 qualifying with a 2-0 win in Norway on Tuesday.

Goals from Simone Zaza and Leonardo Bonucci sealed a comfortable Group H triumph in Oslo as the four-time world champion again looked at home in Conte's 3-5-2 formation.

Expectations were high in Italy as the 45-year-old, who took the reins having led Juventus to three straight Serie A titles, oversaw his first competitive game.

And his Italy team did not disappoint, showing the same flair that earned a 2-0 friendly win over Netherlands in the head coach's maiden match last week.

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From the moment that Zaza set his team on its way in the 16th minute, Italy assumed complete control in a performance of craft and guile.

Norway had little answer and was left to contemplate a seven consecutive game without tasting victory, while Italy's win came at a cost as Ciro Immobile left the field on a stretcher late.

Italy was without talisman Andrea Pirlo - who recently revealed a conversation with former club coach Conte persuaded him to postpone a planned international retirement - through injury.

Yet his absence did not show as the visitors pressed forward initially, with wing backs Mattia De Sciglio and Matteo Darmian causing Norway problems. The upshot was early waves of attacks from Conte's men as Norway struggled to retain possession.

Italy's ambition brought early reward as Zaza broke the deadlock. Having received De Sciglio's pass following a clever Immobile dummy, he unleashed a powerful effort that deflected off the inside of Havard Nordtveit's leg and beyond Orjan Nyland.

To its credit, Norway initially responded impressively as Joshua King hit a shot just over the crossbar. Italy continued to threaten as well, though, with Emanuele Giaccherini stinging Nyland's hands from distance.

Giaccherini came close again just before the break when a powerful volley went narrowly wide following a superb counterattack.

There was plenty of quality on show after halftime from Italy, although its impressive play did not lead to many openings. That seemed to give the home side confidence as it grew into the game, even if its final ball left something to be desired.

And Norway was rueing its failure to capitalize on good possession in the 62nd minute when Bonucci met Manuel Pasqual's cross with a powerful header that flew into the net.

That goal seemed to knock the wind out of the host's sails, and it was relieved not to fall three behind when De Sciglio forced Nyland into a solid save.

Nyland had to be on high alert again in the 77th minute, producing a fine stop with his foot to deny Alessandro Florenzi's follow-up after Zaza had rattled the crossbar. And even when it beat the goalkeeper, Italy could not grab a third, with Vegard Forren producing a superb goal-line clearance as Zaza was denied again.

That was the final opportunity, although the game ended on a sour note for Italy when Immobile was forced to leave the field on a stretcher.