Sports Desk, Sep 2 (EFE).- Newly crowned European champions Italy could manage only a 1-1 draw Thursday with Bulgaria in a World Cup 2022 qualifier at Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence.
With 10 points from four matches, the Azzurri remain atop Group C, 4 points ahead of Switzerland, who have two games in hand.
Though the draw extended Italy’s unbeaten run to 35 matches, equaling the mark set by Spain in 2007-2009, coach Roberto Mancini will not be happy about dropping points in a contest where his squad had 79 percent possession and outshot their opponents 27-4.
The hosts went up 1-0 in the 16th minute on an exquisite goal by Federico Chiesa, who blazed down the right side into the area and worked a perfect give-and-go with Ciro Inmobile before putting the ball past Bulgaria goalkeeper Georgi Georgiev.
Unlike Italian sides of the past who would have been content to defend the one-goal advantage, Mancini’s squad continue pressing and opened the door for the visitors to strike back.
Five minutes before the break, Atanas Iliev brought Bulgaria level with a goal off a counter led by Kiril Despotov.
Italy chased the win in the second half, albeit with a measure of caution, and Georgiev did well enough when tested to preserve the point for Bulgaria. EFE