Gianluigi Buffon was not a happy man despite leaving Malta with the points as Italy shaded their FIFA World Cup™ qualifier last night. A double from the in-form Mario Balotelli earned Cesare Prandelli`s men a 2-0 win at Ta' Qali, although they were not always comfortable.
Buffon had to save a Michael Mifsud penalty after Balotelli's opener - itself from the spot - and the Juventus man admitted to being frustrated at how the evening panned out. After finishing a contest which Italy started with only Juventus and AC Milan players, Buffon told reporters: "There were some difficult playing conditions, as it was very windy and the pitch was extremely wet. Plus if there isn't 100 per cent focus and concentration, then you are going to run into trouble.
"I wasn't the only one who got angry, as we all did. These situations happen when there are games that aren't high profile. It is a characteristic (we have) had for years, as we always seem to leave it open for ourselves, our fans and our opponents.
"The penalty was an incident, but added to the other five or six chances it showed it was not a walk in the park. Those no longer exist in football, especially away from home."
Balotelli becoming reliable
Away from the win there were two talking points last night. One was the retirement of one of Buffon's understudies, Morgan De Sanctis, the other was the form of Balotelli. Chastised during his time with Manchester City, the striker has been sensational since joining Milan in January and last night's goals were his ninth and tenth in nine games for club and country.
"He behaves very well on the field, but what really interests me is that he's ready to work hard and sacrifice himself when playing," Buffon said. "He has always done that. The difference now is that he is playing consistently, which he had never really done in his career."
Italy lead qualifying Group B by three points from Bulgaria, having played a game less.