Italy were held to a 1-1 draw by Serbia on Friday. Cesare Prandelli’s side took a first-minute lead through midfielder Claudio Marchisio before Branislav Ivanovic levelled midway through the first half.
Serbia left back Aleksandar Kolarov tested Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon with a long range effort almost straight after the kick off, before Marchisio scored at the other end after he was put through by Giuseppe De Rossi.
The midfielder took De Rossi’s pass in his stride and easily rounded Serbia centre back Slobodan Rajkovic before he steered the ball past keeper Bojan Jorgacevic.
The Italians nearly doubled their lead but Jorgacevic denied Giuseppe Rossi with an excellent save, before the home side regained their composure and started to pile on the pressure.
Having made several marauding runs on either flank, Serbia came close when winger Milos Krasic volleyed wide of the far post before they levelled in the 26th minute.
The Italians failed to clear a corner and the rebound fell kindly for Zoran Tosic, whose fierce volley from the edge of the penalty box was steered in from close range by defender Ivanovic.
Kolarov twice had Buffon at full stretch in the second half and striker Marko Pantelic headed Ivanovic’s cross inches over the crossbar as Serbia dominated proceedings after the interval, although Italy enjoyed more possession in the closing stages.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was happy with his team’s performance.
“The players showed a lot of character and we played well on a very difficult pitch, but we know that we have to improve in many departments if we are to be one of the title contenders in next year’s finals. We are not the best team in the world but we will keep working hard to get better and we have the will-power to achieve these objectives.”