• Italy debutant Graziano Pellè's 24th-minute goal decides the Group H encounter
• Malta captain Michael Mifsud (28) and Italy's Leonardo Bonucci (73) dismissed
• Antonio Conte's Italy have a perfect record after three matches; Malta are point-less
• Malta coach Pietro Ghedin suffers defeat against the country of his birth
• Next games: Bulgaria v Malta, Italy v Croatia (November 16)
A goal by Italy debutant Graziano Pellè was enough to see off Malta at Ta' Qali National Stadium where both sides finished with ten men as the Azzurri maintained their perfect record in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group H
The hosts threatened first when a powerful 15th-minute shot by Clayton Failla from the edge of the penalty box whistled past Gianluigi Buffon's left post. Italy, however, responded quickly as Pellè's header from a Manuel Pasqual cross struck the crossbar.
Having scored twice on Friday against Azerbaijan, Giorgio Chiellini went close to another goal from the resulting corner, the centre-back's header rattling the upright. The 2012 runners-up eventually took the lead from another Pasqual corner. Andrew Hogg made a superb save to keep out Leonardo Bonucci's close-range header, but Pellè was quickest to react, turning in the loose ball with his left foot.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for Malta as captain Michael Mifsud was sent off for a challenge on Alessandro Florenzi in midfield. After the break Antonio Candreva's drive from wide on the right grazed the crossbar, while Ciro Immobile should have done better when he failed to get sufficient power behind a header from Marco Verratti's delivery.
The Azzurri struggled to find spaces against an organised Malta defence and their numerical advantage vanished with 17 minutes to play, Bonucci being red-carded for a professional foul on André Schembri. Malta, however, failed to threaten Buffon in the closing minutes and they remain point-less after three games in the section.
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