Immobile rescues Italy, Spain cruise
LAZIO striker Ciro Immobile grabbed an injury-time winner as four-time champions Italy snatched a 3-2 comeback win at Macedonia on Sunday, narrowly avoiding a World Cup qualifying embarrassment.
Italy, who had needed a late penalty to salvage a point against Group G rivals Spain on Thursday, were staring at a shock defeat in Skopje against a Macedonia side ranked a lowly 146 in the world.
Torino striker Andrea Belotti had given Italy a 24th-minute lead just four minutes after Palermo marksman Ilija Nestorokvski had crashed a drive off the crossbar for the hosts.
But Nestorokvski levelled just before the hour mark when he robbed Marco Verratti before tucking the ball past veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Two minutes later, Macedonia were ahead when midfielder Ferhan Hasani finished a smart move involving Goran Pandev and Nestorokvski.
However, Immobile put Italy back on equal terms at 2-2 with 15 minutes left after good approach work from Verratti and Antonio Candreva.
He came to the rescue of Italy again two minutes into injury time, finishing off a Candreva cross.
Italy are second in Group G with seven points but Spain lead the way on goal difference after a deserved 2-0 win over Albania in Shkoder.
The only downside for Spain was seeing key defender and skipper Sergio Ramos suffer a left knee injury which could sideline him for three matches with his club Real Madrid.
Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Georgia in Cardiff as their push to reach a first World Cup since 1958 hit a roadblock.