Friday November 15 2013
Abate: 'It's a first!'

Ignazio Abate admits he was surprised to score his debut Italy goal with his left foot. “It must be a first!”

The Milan full-back found the net with his weaker foot in the 1-1 friendly draw with Germany, exchanging passes with Leonardo Bonucci.

“It was at San Siro and my birthday a couple of days ago, so I’m glad it also coincided with a good result,” he told Rai Sport.

“It was a bit weird being up there, but Leonardo did well to give back the pass into space. I think it must be my first goal with the left foot!

“I certainly want to dedicate this goal to my family, my teammates and also to Adriano Galliani, who said he expected great things from me this season.

“We still have a long way to go and can improve a great deal. We showed that we have great heart and always give our all in the games that count. We have a lot of quality, especially in the middle of the park, and can definitely hurt other teams.

“Germany and Italy are two great national teams. I think the real worth of a side is seen in the major tournaments, so Italy tend to make their mark in these situations.”

Abate’s goal was a crucial turning point, as for 20 minutes after the Mats Hummels header Italy were struggling.

“We conceded on a set play and Germany tried to lower the tempo, so we needed to get back into shape and it took a while to find that balance again.”

He was also asked about his Milan and Azzurri teammate Mario Balotelli.

“He trained with real intensity, wants to prove himself and it wasn’t easy for him tonight. He sacrificed himself a lot for the team and when he works for the side he always has a great game.

“Mario is young, but already a world class player. It’s only normal that a Coach uses the carrot and the stick approach, he understands when things aren’t going well and everyone at a club side feels responsible when there are bad results.

“Mario was impeccable tonight in terms of behaviour. That’s the way it should be, as none of us can go into an important game with the risk of leaving our teammates a man down.”

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