Graziano Pelle's debut goal ensures Italy maintain record-setting run

Italy supporters with flag

Southampton's in-form striker netted the only goal of the game against Malta earlier this evening.

One of the revelations of British football this season has been the difference-maker at international level.

Southampton and Italy goal-scorer Graziano Pelle, seemingly preferred to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, won the Azzurri maximum points against Malta earlier this evening, Monday.

Italy laboured to victory despite dominating possession (76% to 24%) and attempting 19 shots on goal to Malta's five (five on target compared to Malta's paltry one).

Antonio Conte has helped revolutionise the Italy national football team since his appointment two months ago and his decision to call-up Pelle over Balotelli paid dividends in the 22nd minute as the flourishing Saints star struck a left-footed shot from close range to the centre of goal following a corner set-piece.

Pelle was withdrawn in the 76th minute as Angelo Ogbonna replaced him.

Ronald Koeman bought Pelle from Feyenoord for a reported £6.5 million and the signing has proven to be inspired as, in 630 minutes of Premier League football to date, Pelle has already scored four goals and returned one assist.

Scoring on his debut for Italy has also proven to be vital as the nation have now gone 43 consecutive qualifiers (European and World Cup) without a single loss. This is the best streak of any UEFA team.

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