Romania's Ciprian Marica proved hero then villain in Austria tonight, first scoring for Romania and then conceding an own goal eight minutes before time to level the scoreline and hand Italy a 1-1 draw.
Marica nodded the ball into his own net in the 83rd minute after substitute Fabio Quagliarella had managed to get a touch to Andrea Pirlo's corner. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli used the friendly in Klagenfurt's HYPO Group Arena to try out young players, including Mario Balotelli of Manchester City. The former Inter Milan striker earned his second Italy start and played well but lacked a finishing touch.
Prandelli handed debuts to Federico Balzaretti, Andrea Ranocchia, Alessandro Diamanti and Christian Ledesma, and his side began brightly with Romania goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon forced to come off his line to deny Balotelli early on. Midway through the first half, Balotelli's powerful free-kick was saved by the keeper while moments later the same player's 30-yard strike went just over the bar.
But it was Romania who made the breakthrough against the run of play in the 34th minute. Italy's defence failed to clear the ball inside the area and it fell to Marica, who fired home beyond Emiliano Viviano. The Azzurri almost equalised before the break but Pantilimon parried Balotelli's right-footed strike from 10 yards. Prandelli made a double substitution at the break with Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino entering the action. Gilardino got to work immediately and his shot from the edge of the area was saved by Pantilimon.
On the hour mark, Quagliarella replaced Balotelli and within moments the substitute wasted a good chance as he struck wide from a good position. With 20 minutes remaining, Viviano did well to save Gabriel Tamas' bullet strike from outside the area. And with the clock ticking down, Pantilimon could do nothing to keep out Marica's header after Quagliarella did well to flick the ball into the danger area.