Football: Italy survive Bulgaria test to extend lead
PALERMO, Italy (AFP) - Italy survived a nervy second half in an unconvincing 1-0 win over Bulgaria in Palermo to edge closer to 2014 World Cup qualification after extending their lead in Group B to seven points on Friday.
Injuries and the suspension of three players, notably AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, forced Italy coach Cesare Prandelli to opt for a makeshift 4-3-2-1 formation with Alberto Gilardino deployed as the lone striker.
Prandelli's tactic ultimately paid off with Gilardino heading home from Antonio Candreva's cross late in the first half.
But the striker was one of several Auzzurri who were left lamenting spurned chances in the first half, especially when Bulgaria, who held Italy to a 2-2 draw in Sofia a year ago, came fighting back after the interval.