Thu | Jul 27, 2017

Croatia hold Italy

Published:Monday | November 17, 2014 | 11:00 AM
AP Italy's Daniele De Rossi (left) challenges for the ball with Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic during their Euro 2016 qualifying match at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, yesterday. The game ended 1 - 1.

MILAN (AP):

Italy drew 1-1 against Croatia in a trouble-filled European Championship qualifier at the San Siro yesterday, to leave both teams level at the top of their group.

The match had to be suspended for 10 minutes after Croatia fans threw fireworks on to the pitch. Riot police waded into the stands and, eventually, the final 17

minutes were played.

Play had also been halted in the first half for a few minutes, under similar circumstances.

Antonio Candreva fired Italy in front against the run of play in the 11th minute, but Croatia levelled just four minutes later through Ivan Perisic following a rare howler from Italy goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon.

Croatia was also guilty of several glaring misses, while Italy struggled to carve out clear goalscoring opportunities.

Both remained level on 10 points, one ahead of Norway, which won 1-0 in Azerbaijan, thanks to Havard Nordtveit's first-half strike.

MALTA'S FIRST POINT

Azerbaijan was still without a point, but Malta picked up its first point with a 1-1 draw away to Bulgaria, which moved onto four points.

Croatia had only ever lost once to Italy, their first meeting in 1942, winning three and drawing three.

Italy had a host of injury problems and that was exacerbated in the build-up with Mario Balotelli, who had been called up for the first time under Conte, and Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna both withdrawing.

Italy's Daniele De Rossi and Croatia's Ivica Olic were both making their 100th international appearance.

Italy started off sluggishly, and Croatia could have taken an early lead, but Ivan Rakitic's effort from outside the box stung Buffon's gloves.

It was all Croatia as Italy struggled to get out of its own half, but it was the home side which took the lead when Simone Zaza's shot was charged down and, seeing his path blocked, the Sassuolo

striker rolled it back for Candreva to drive into the bottom-left corner.

Croatia levelled almost immediately after Perisic cut inside the left side of the area and fired under Buffon.

In other games, The Nether-lands got the better of Latvia

6-0, Czech Republic clipped Iceland 2-1, Israel bettered Bos-nia and Herzegovina 3-0,

while Turkey beat Kazakhstan

3-1.