Emanuele Giaccherini scored a record-breaking goal, but Italy fumbled a 2-0 lead for a shock 2-2 friendly draw with Haiti.
The Azzurri played their final test before the Confederations Cup, a tie in Rio de Janeiro to raise funds for those struck by the devastating earthquakes in Haiti. Cesare Prandelli experimented the 4-3-3 system with a host of second string players, including Alessio Cerci and Alessandro Diamanti. Haiti faced Spain in a friendly on Saturday and were only beaten 2-1.
The Azzurri only arrived in Rio 34 hours before this game, which was played at Vasco da Gama’s Estadio Sao Januario.
They certainly weren’t jet-lagged, as within 19 seconds Antonio Candreva had pulled back from the by-line for Emanuele Giaccherini, who burst in front of Constant Monuma to turn in from seven yards.
This was Giaccherini’s second senior Italy goal and the fastest ever scored by an Azzurri player, beating Salvatore Bagni’s record of 20 seconds against Mexico on February 2, 1984.
An Antonio Candreva screamer from distance tested the goalkeeper, then the Lazio man curled wide, but PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had to beat away a long-range snapshot on 23 minutes.
Alberto Gilardino had his volley in the back of the net, but was flagged offside. Jean Sony Alcenat skipped past Mattia De Sciglio down the right, but was stopped for a corner by Davide Astori’s tackle.
Cerci didn’t get enough power to his lob and allowed the goalkeeper to pluck it out of the air. Haiti were certainly not going to just sit back and caused a few problems with Leonel Saint-Preux’s pace down Italy’s left flank.
Saint-Preux flashed a ball across the face of goal that Jean-Eudes Maurice just failed to make contact with on a diving header.
Just before the break Italy hit the woodwork, as Gilardino flicked on a De Sciglio assist from six yards, but it bobbled on to the base of the far post. Diamanti’s curling free kick shaved a coat of paint off the upright after dipping over the wall.
Federico Marchetti came on for the second half, earning his first Italy cap since the 2010 World Cup. Gilardino fired straight at Frandy Montrevil and Alcenat just failed to get a touch to the dangerous ball across the face of goal.
Astori risked an own goal when he prodded just wide of the near post from six yards, then from that corner Kevin Lafrance’s glancing free header was inches off target.
Marchetti had to beat away a Maurice strike at the near post after Astori slipped, then the same Haiti player blasted just over from distance.
Italy doubled their lead with three substitutes combining. Mario Balotelli burst down the right and pulled back from the by-line for Stephan El Shaarawy, who fired straight at the goalkeeper and Claudio Marchisio tapped in the rebound just moments after stepping on to the pitch.
The goalkeeper crucially intercepted a similar Candreva pass for El Shaarawy in the six-yard box, then the Little Pharaoh chested a De Rossi cross forward to anticipate the defender, but it squirmed out of play.
Astori had a poor game overall and clearly tripped Jean-Eudes Maurice for a penalty. Olrish Sorel stepped up and converted it powerfully past Marchetti at the near post.
Incredibly, Haiti scored an equaliser in stoppages to send the crowd wild. Jean-Philippe Peguero chested down a long ball, held off his marker and placed the angled drive past Marchetti into the far bottom corner.
Italy 2-2 Haiti
Scorers: Giaccherini 1 (I), Marchisio 72 (I), Sorel pen 84 (H), Peguero 92 (H)
Italy: Sirigu (Marchetti 46); Maggio, Bonucci, Astori, De Sciglio; Giaccherini (De Rossi 54), Aquilani (Marchisio 71), Diamanti (Montolivo 54); Cerci (El Shaarawy 60), Gilardino (Balotelli 54), Candreva
Haiti: Montrevil; Alcenat, Lafrance (Desmarets 55), Aveska (Mechack 82), Guerrier; Alexandre, Louis (Peterson 62), Maurice, Constant; Saint-Preux (Peguero 70), Herold (Saurel 76)
Ref: De Lima Enrique (BRA)
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.