Italy 1-1 Bulgaria: Azzurri go 35 unbeaten to equal record

By Sports Desk September 02, 2021

Italy extended their unbeaten run to a record-equalling 35 games despite being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Bulgaria in Florence on Thursday. 

European champions Italy, who last lost a game in September 2018, matched the mark set by Spain and Brazil despite being far from their best in the Group C clash - their first outing since overcoming England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final. 

Federico Chiesa gave Roberto Mancini’s men the lead with a powerful finish in the 16th minute, but Atanas Iliev restored parity before half-time. 

Although Italy were unable to find a winner and maintain their 100 per cent start in Group C, they can still make history by avoiding defeat away to Switzerland in their next qualifier on Sunday. 

Lorenzo Insigne had a great chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute but, after being played in by a fortunate ricochet, he was unable to guide his shot past Georgi Georgiev. 

After Kiril Despodov missed the target with Bulgaria’s first decent effort, Chiesa dribbled in off the right and lashed an excellent drive into the bottom-right corner to put Italy in front. 

Georgiev did well to keep out a powerful attempt from Ciro Immobile and Bulgaria surprisingly equalised in the 39th minute when Iliev got in front of Francesco Acerbi to turn home Despodov’s pass. 

Insigne failed to take another good opening before half-time, while Immobile rounded Georgiev but was unable to convert from a tight angle three minutes after the restart. 

Italy were back on top but a strong hand from Georgiev stopped Chiesa clipping home a second after spinning away from his marker in the 62nd minute. 

The Bulgaria keeper made another fine stop to thwart Immobile from close range and the Azzurri had to settle for a point.

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