Italy's last game of 2013 ended with a 2-2 draw against fellow 2014 FIFA World Cup finalists Nigeria in a friendly at London's Craven Cottage.
Giuseppe Rossi gave the Azzurri an early lead but Nigeria turned the game on its head with two goals in the space of four minutes from Bright Dike and Shola Ameobi. Emanuele Giaccherini equalised two minutes after the interval and Cesare Prandelli's side pushed for a winner but were denied by the woodwork.
Prandelli was eager to test Rossi with Mario Balotelli in attack as the ACF Fiorentina forward has recently returned to peak form after recovering from two serious knee injuries. The pair combined for the opener after 12 minutes as Balotelli shielded the ball well and passed it through for Rossi to chip the onrushing Austin Ejide.
Balotelli could have added another when he found himself with only Ejide to beat after a nice pass by Riccardo Montolivo but goalkeeper Ejide somehow managed to put one hand on the ball to deny the striker. Nigeria equalised when Dike headed in a cross by Ameobi from the left on 35 minutes. Ameobi then went from provider to goalscorer with a nice volley at the near post following a cross by Benjamin Francis from the left.
Italy were soon level in the second half courtesy of a nice team move that started with a Balotelli back-heel on the right and ended on the other side of the penalty box as Giaccherini coolly slotted in a Antonio Candreva pass. Substitutes Marco Parolo and Alessandro Diamanti hit the woodwork, the latter with a wonderful free-kick as Italy had to settle for a fourth consecutive draw.
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