Bonucci praises Balotelli for his maturity

Ross Houston
May 31, 2018

It took the 27-year-old Nice striker just 21 minutes to get on the scoreboard with his first goal for Italy since netting the victor against England at the 2014 World Cup.

Of course, Italy aren't in the World Cup, though the game does prepare Saudi Arabia who have to negotiate a Group consisting of tournament host Russia, Egypt and Uruguay. "Saudi Arabia are a long way behind us in the ranking, but they are preparing for the World Cup right now and that's not to be taken for granted".

Substitute Andrea Belotti and Yahya Al-Shehri exchanged goals after the break, but Italy were triumphant come the final whistle in Switzerland.

Mancini said Balotelli's performance was "pretty good".

And the Torino striker felt there were a lot of positives to be taken from Tuesday's match played in St Gallen.

Balotelli came out firing early with the Nice striker heading just wide off a Leonardo Bonucci cross.

Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne almost added a second minutes later after picking up a pin ideal cross but defender Yasir Al Shahrani blocked.

And he marked his return to the worldwide fold with a goal.

Gianluigi Donnarumma had sprinted out into midfield and Al-Shehri rounded the Italy goalkeeper before scoring into an empty net.

It was his first goal for Italy since the 2014 World Cup group stage, when he scored the victor against England on June 14, 2014. "Italy have a coach and players on a high level and were the world champions and the Saudi team achieved what was required".

"Unfortunately, the failure to reach the World Cup is something that continues to hurt, it's an open wound and everyone knows what happened".

"We must start again and build our self-confidence, which I think is what we saw tonight". It plays France in Nice on Friday and the Netherlands, in Turin, three days later.

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