Italy bounced back from the disppointment of drawing 2-2 against Bulgaria in their Group B opener to record a 2-0 win against Malta in Modena.
The Azzurri took the lead after five minutes from their first real attack when Mattia Destro beat the Malta offside trap to latch on to Claudio Marchisio's pass and beat the onrushing Andrew Hogg with a precise shot. Italy fans at the Stadio Alberto Braglia may have thought it would be the first of many goals, but they had to wait until added time to see the second when Federico Peluso headed in from a corner.
Soon after Destro's opener, Hogg saved a dangerous free-kick by Alessandro Diamanti with the help of the crossbar, while a last-gasp tackle by Luke Dimech kept out Pablo Osvaldo's close-range effort after another fine pass by Marchisio.
With André Schembri shadowing Andrea Pirlo around the pitch, Italy were short of ideas for the rest of the half and coach Cesare Prandelli decided to replace Diamanti with Lorenzo Insigne at the break, handing the SSC Napoli forward his international debut. The 21-year-old ignited the Azzurri attack with his runs and dribbling but Malta – coached by the Italian Pietro Ghedin – continued to defend well.
Hogg saved an effort by Antonio Nocerino, Marchisio fired over from just outside the penalty area and substitute Giampaolo Pazzini shot wide after a good ball by Insigne. Just when Italy seemed to be settling for the narrowest of victories, Peluso headed in a Pirlo corner. Italy have four points after two games now while Malta are yet to get off the mark.