Italy player ratings v Azerbaijan: Chiellini scores, Arsenal-linked star shines

Italy Azzuri

Italy escaped with a narrow 2-1 win over Azerbaijan as Giorgio Chiellini netted at both ends of the pitch, with Sebastian Giovinco proving a difference-maker off the bench.

Gianluigi Buffon (6/10) – Had next to nothing to do the entire game, aside from Azerbaijan’s goal. Should have done better reading the cross that led to Chiellini bundling over the line into his own net.

Andrea Ranocchia (6.5/10) – Needlessly gave away the corner that brought about Azerbaijan’s equaliser. Otherwise did quite well, winning most of his aerial battles and looking comfortable in possession.

Leonardo Bonucci (7/10) – Rode the wave of his good form at Juventus this season. Was absolutely everywhere at the back, particularly in the first half, and found plenty of time to threaten in attack as well.

Giorgio Chiellini (7/10) – An absolutely madcap performance from the Bianconeri man. Scored the opener with a fine header, clumsily brought Azerbaijan level with an own-goal, then redeemed himself by netting the winner late on. Pseudo hat-trick.

Matteo Darmian (6/10) – Worked hard on the right flank, but was never really able to leave his mark. Did have one moment of brilliance when he set up Zaza six yards from goal with a pinpoint low cross, but his team-mate couldn’t take advantage.

Alessandro Florenzi (6.5/10) – Still becoming accustomed to his central midfield role under Conte in the national side. Constantly made dangerous runs forward and tracked back, but his final ball was too often lacking and he gave away a few too many fouls. A work in progress for La Nazionale.

Andrea Pirlo (7/10) – Was man-marked by Azerbaijan in a bid to limit his effectiveness and took only 59 touches. Yet, the 35-year-old maestro was imperious with his set-piece deliveries, assisting Chiellini’s opener and creating Italy’s best chances on the day.

Claudio Marchisio (7/10) – Knows precisely what his job is having worked with Conte at club level. Had an excellent opportunity to score inside the opening 10 minutes but failed to take it. Completed 87% of his passes and added two tackles.

Mattia De Sciglio (6.5/10) – The more dangerous of Italy’s wing-backs, looking to push the tempo and get to the byline. Far more involved in the second half than in the first, De Sciglio is wary of the challenge posed for his place in the side by Manuel Pasqual.

Ciro Immobile (6.5/10) – Worked incredibly hard from kick-off to the final blast of the whistle. Held play up well and allowed his team-mates to make overlapping runs. Twice had the ball in the back of the net but saw his efforts chalked off for a foul and offside.

Simone Zaza (6/10) – Disillusioned in the first half and well off the pace, struggling to make himself available and get involved. Nearly scored a spectacular bicycle kick just after the break, but also missed a sitter that will leave a sour taste in his mouth.

Substitutes

Alberto Aquilani (5.5/10) – Wasn’t wasteful after replacing Pirlo with 92% pass accuracy, but lacked incisiveness and didn’t move with great purpose.

Sebastian Giovinco (8/10) – The reported Arsenal target was superb coming off the bench, providing Italy with the spark to snatch three points. Assisted Chiellini’s winner with an excellent cross and saw his swerving effort cruelly smack off the crossbar late on. Completed five dribbles in a quarter-hour of work and made a case for his inclusion, with his call-up widely questioned.

Antonio Candreva (6/10) – Brought his typically useful trickiness to the table in the closing minutes. Helped keep Azerbaijan honest on the counter after Italy regained the lead.

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