Football: Italy break Macedonian hearts

Italy kept Spain from opening a significant advantage atop Group G by scoring two late goals and salvaging a 3-2 win at Macedonia on Sunday evening in Skopje in European qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Italy needed an injury-time goal by Ciro Immobile to secure the hard-fought win that allowed it to join Spain atop the group with seven points. It trails Spain on goal difference.

Only the group winners automatically qualify for the World Cup in Russia.

Italy seemed in control against Macedonia after Andrea Belotti scored in the 24th minute, but goals by Ilija Nestorovski in the 57th and Ferhan Hasani in the 59th, both times after Italian giveaways, left the visitors in danger of a shock defeat.

Immobile equalized in the 75th and netted the important winner with a close-range header two minutes into second-half injury time, keeping Italy in a strong position.

"It was a great response by the team as far as character is concerned," Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura said.

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