International friendly: Italy edge to narrow 1-0 victory over Albania in Genoa
Last Updated: 19/11/14 8:18am
Stefano Okaka scored a late header to spare Italy's blushes in a tight 1-0 friendly win over Albania in Genoa.
The Albanians travelled in confidence after a draw against France in Rennes on Friday, but Okaka's late winner proved just enough to win it for the hosts.
Italy hoped for a good reaction after a disappointing 1-1 draw in their European Championship qualifier against Croatia in Milan on Friday.
And the hosts started well with Marco Parolo's 25th minute strike from the right parried by Etrit Berisha in the Albanian goal.
Amir Abrashi shot wide for the visitors two minutes later, then Sebastian Giovinco missed a chance for the Italians from the middle of the penalty box on the half-hour mark.
Albania, buoyed by a strong start to their own European qualifying campaign, almost grabbed the lead in the 36th minute when Sokol Cikalleshi drilled a shot against the post from 20 yards.
In a lively end to the first period, Andrea Bertolacci then had an effort tipped round the post by Berisha, before Cikalleshi saw another chance saved by Salvatore Singu at the other end.
Berisha then tipped an effort by Alessio Cerci round the post on the stroke of half-time.
The increasingly busy Berisha saved again from Giovinco early in the second half while Cerci and Mattia Destro went on to miss clear-cut opportunities.
Ledian Memushaj forced Singu to tip his long-range effort round the post in the 66th minute but Berisha produced the save of the match two minutes later when he parried an effort by Okaka at point-blank range.
Berisha was finally denied his deserved clean sheet 10 minutes from time, when Okaka met Giacomo Bonaventura's cross from the left with a powerful header into the top corner from six yards.