Ventura: “We played, suffered and won as a team.” Candreva: “This group’s fantastic”


“Tonight we played as a team, we suffered as a team and we won as a team.” These were the first words from a satisfied Gian Piero Ventura after the full-time whistle. “The first half would have been perfect if we had avoided the incident around the Israel goal, it was similar to what happened against France,” he continued. “It was a great goal but we gave it to them. Clearly, it’s always difficult to play as ten against eleven in a World Cup qualifier. There were five minutes where we dropped off but then we didn’t give anything more up and we had other chances to finish it off. Verratti? Lots of people have said he can’t play in that role but instead he showed that he is a player of substance.”

There is now a month to go until the big challenge of facing Spain in Turin. “We will be better physically because our players will have more games under their belts. I think we can do better than tonight,” concluded Ventura. Ciro Immobile was the epitome of happiness after the game. “The boss predicted that I would score,” he said. “I am very happy, also because there is a special bond between us on a personal and a professional level. I owe him a lot, the goal was the least that I could do. We played as Italy and we won. Ours is a tough group, only one side will go straight through so we have to win and not drop points. We will put our all into it like we did at the European Championship. It’s an honour for us to play for the national side and to qualify for the World Cup.”

“There was a moment of carelessness but we played a great game,” added Antonio Candreva who made it 2-1 from the spot after 32 minutes. “We are a great group, we have built the right spirit in these last two years. Today is a starting point, now we are thinking about the next games.”

“When the numbers were level, the game was still under our control,” Candreva went on. “At points we struggled because we were a man down. We have to keep working on the things the boss is certain about. It can be that you’re not in top physical condition at the start of the season. We know that the Spain game will be difficult. But with hard work, determination and humility we can make things difficult for anybody.”

Pellè opened the scoring and it was his ninth goal in the Azzurri shirt. “As per usual, the national team is always ready when the matches count,” he said. “We are happy for the new staff, it was a good win at a difficult place to visit. We knew that we had to stay focused, we showed that we are a side which fights to the end. Now we hope to carry on like that and you can always improve.”