Italy 1-0 Scotland: Graziano Pelle hits winner to defeat sorry Scots
By Jack Atchinson and PA Sport
Last Updated: 29/05/16 11:38pm
Graziano Pelle's 20-yard wonder strike was enough to defeat Scotland in Italy's penultimate warm-up game before Euro 2016.
The Southampton striker curled home the only goal of the game in the 57th minute but Scotland would have been on the end of a heavier defeat if Emanuele Giaccherini had shown more composure when presented with several clear chances in the first half.
The 1,200 Tartan Army fans who made the trip to the Ta'Qali National Stadium in Malta would have been disappointed by the performance of their side, Matt Ritchie managing their only shot of the game 12 minutes from time.
Italy had not won in four matches but they were a class above Gordon Strachan's men as they geared up for a tournament that pits them against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Sweden.
The first half saw both teams have periods dominating possession but it was Italy who were the only side who looked to create chances.
David Marshall was called into action early in the half to save an Antonio Candreva free-kick. The rebound landed at the feet of Giaccherini but Marshall got up to deny the effort.
Italy carried on pressing for the opening goal. Giaccherini had another golden opportunity to score but blazed over from 12 yards and Candreva saw several volleys go over the bar.
Giaccherini was wrongly flagged offside as he teed up another chance but the inevitable Italian opener finally came shortly before the hour mark.
Daniele De Rossi had won the ball in midfield and passed to Eder, who controlled the ball, only to have Pelle steal it off his feet.
But the Saints man produced a moment of magic, taking one touch before curling past the outstretched Marshall. It was the least Italy deserved.
Italy appeared to ease off after the breakthrough - and a number of substitutions also affected their rhythm - but Scotland could not capitalise.
Some Scotland fans celebrated their first corner in the 70th minute but the referee blew for an Italy free-kick almost immediately after it was taken.
There was some genuine excitement for the travelling support when substitute Steven Naismith worked the ball out to Ritchie on the left edge of the box after Scotland had won the ball deep in the Italy half, but the Bournemouth player shot just wide of the near post.
Incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would have been pleased with how his side controlled the game but Strachan will be left frustrated by his side's lack of cutting edge.