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Pellè delighted to start Italy career with a goal

Published: Tuesday 14 October 2014, 0.25CET
Italy forward Graziano Pellè was left to reflect on an international debut to remember after scoring the only goal of a hard-fought game against a Malta side full of pride.
by Paolo Menicucci & Domenic Aquilina
from Ta' Qali National Stadium
Pellè delighted to start Italy career with a goal
Graziano Pellè celebrates his first-half effort ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 14 October 2014, 0.25CET

Pellè delighted to start Italy career with a goal

Italy forward Graziano Pellè was left to reflect on an international debut to remember after scoring the only goal of a hard-fought game against a Malta side full of pride.

Graziano Pellè says he knew his chance would come, even after hitting the bar
Italy boss Antonio Conte admits his side "needed a player like Pellè"
Pietro Ghedin says ten-man Malta gave their "heart and soul"
Italy debutant Pellè's 24th-minute goal decides the Group H encounter
Next games: Bulgaria v Malta, Italy v Croatia (November 16) 

Graziano Pellè, Italy striker
I'm really happy because a striker has to score and it was important for me to do so. However, we would like to do even better, we know we have to improve and this is just the beginning for our new coach [Antonio Conte]. I'm happy with my goal, but I know I have to do more.

I'm a really positive person and at that moment [when my header hit the crossbar at 0-0] I wanted to score, but I know that as a striker you always get more chances. After, when the ball was there, I had to score and thankfully I did.

Claudio Marchisio, Italy midfielder
We have had to suffer again [after the game against Azerbaijan] but we go back to our respective clubs knowing that Italy took six important points over the course of these two games. I heard that Croatia also won, so we will go there for the next game among the two group favourites, with both sides on full points.

The approach was good both against Azerbaijan and Malta but I think we tend to ease off after taking the lead and when we do so we have difficulties against sides who close down space well, getting many players behind the ball. We have to improve in this regard: we shouldn't change the way we play after taking the lead.

Pellè's debut was very good and established him as a player who could be very useful for this team. Giovinco was unlucky again [hitting the post] but we are fully aware that he can be a great help. Our coach knows that he can change games. He can make the difference with his technical skills and his ability with the ball.

©Getty Images

Italy celebrate after Graziano Pellè's goal

Marco Verratti, Italy midfielder
The result is always the most important thing in games like these. Victories always bring confidence. When you earn three points when you are not at your very best it is always very important. We did not risk anything in defence and we had some good chances to score more, hitting the post a few times.

Now we have to keep on working hard, I'm sure we will improve by playing more together, we can work with more tranquillity and we can understand better how the coach wants us to play. He has only been here for three games – it is impossible to ask for much more than this. We bring home these three points even if we know that we have to work and improve.

Pietro Ghedin, Malta coach
My biggest satisfaction is that our fans were very happy with us at the final whistle. We gave our heart and soul, everything we had. Beating Italy is very difficult, almost impossible, but my players were very determined, confident, focused. I'm very happy with their performance and we should just continue like this. We have no pressure even if we are still on zero points. It's a difficult group and we must happy with what we are doing.

Michael Mifsud, Malta striker
We were a unit today, covering each other's mistakes. We were very discliplined. It was very difficult for Italy to pass against us. My team-mates gave everything they had until the very end so obviously I'm proud of them. We are a small country. We will take it game by game and try to do better next time.

Antonio Conte, Italy coach
We realised our objective, to win, and we are top of the group – just a month and a half after the disastrous World Cup. It was a good debut for Pellè. We needed a player like him. Malta played defensively and it was difficult for us to attack. This is a good start, though. Winning four out of four after the World Cup is really good. We should be proud that we are first in the group with Croatia but we can always do better.

Last updated: 03/06/15 3.03CET