Alessandro Florenzi scored one and set up another for Graziano Pellè as Italy fought back to beat Norway 2-1.
The Azzurri had already qualified for Euro 2016, but even a victory was not enough to become top seeds in December’s draw, as Belgium beat Israel 3-0. The Norwegians needed a win to top the group and push Croatia into the play-offs.
Andrea Pirlo was still out injured and Daniele De Rossi suspended, joined by Marco Verratti and Marco Parolo, so Riccardo Montolivo got his first Italy start since breaking his leg in May 2014. Antonio Conte returned to a 3-5-2 system with Alessandro Florenzi in midfield.
Within the opening minute, Southampton hitman Graziano Pellè saw his header go inches wide from a Mattia De Sciglio cross.
An audacious Eder volley from 20 metres took a deflection, while Roberto Soriano fired over and Nyland smothered at Pelle’s feet.
However, Norway broke the deadlock with their first foray forward. It was a long free kick, not cleared effectively, so Alexander Tettey volleyed low from the edge of the box through a sea of legs. There were suspicions of offside in the build-up.
The hosts seemed shaken by this goal out of nowhere, but Pellè nodded wide from seven yards on a Montolivo assist, then Nyland was at full stretch to palm a Roberto Soriano effort round the base of the far post.
Just before half-time, Pellè’s looping header was fingertipped out from under the bar, then a Florenzi strike found a great flying save from Nyland.
Soriano blasted straight at the goalkeeper, but Norway put 11 men behind the ball and blocked off all spaces. Eder should’ve scored when springing the offside trap on a long Leonardo Bonucci pass, but he hesitated and Nyland rushed out to smother at his feet.
Italy moved to 4-2-4 for the final 18 minutes and it paid off, as Sebastian Giovinco’s cross caught a defender napping and Florenzi snuck in to toe-poke from six yards.
Moments later Florenzi set up Giovinco for a strike palmed out from under the bar. Florenzi had the ball in the net again, but it was incorrectly disallowed on an Antonio Candreva roll across the face of goal.
Italy did celebrate properly soon after, as Florenzi was again decisive with the cross for Pellè, who hit the half-volley across the goalkeeper from 10 yards.
Giovinco also attempted a lob from midfield, but Nyland was alert, while Candreva curled off target.
Italy 2-1 Norway
Scorers: Tettey 23 (N), Florenzi 73 (I), Pellè 82 (I)
Italy: Buffon; Barzagli (Candreva 72), Bonucci, Chiellini; Darmian, Florenzi, Montolivo (Bertolacci 68), Soriano, De Sciglio; Pellè, Eder (Giovinco 62)
Norway: Nyland; Elabdellaoui, Hovland, Forren, Aleesami; Johansen, Tettey; Skjelbred (Samuelsen 51), Henriksen, Berget (Berisha 78); Soderlund (King 60)
Ref: Brych (GER)
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