Football - Balotelli brace helps Italy beat brave Malta

Mario Balotelli extended his rich vein of scoring form as he hit a brace to inspire Italy to a 2-0 win over a spirited Malta team in a World Cup Group B qualifier on Tuesday.

Reuters

Balotelli gave Italy an eighth-minute lead with a well-taken penalty after Malta defender Luke Dimech floored Stephan El Shaarawy in the penalty area.

Malta had a two excellent opportunities to level as captain Michael Mifsud had a penalty saved by Gianluigi Buffon and, minutes later, rattled the crossbar with a long-range drive.

The hosts paid dearly for the misses as Balotelli doubled Italy's lead on the verge of half-time with a volley after a surging run by right-back Mattia De Sciglio.

Italy easily preserved their two-goal advantage in the second half to strengthen their grip on top spot in Group B with 13 points from five games.

View comments (1)
Write for Yahoo Sport