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Antonio Candreva's goal enough to give Italy victory in Albania

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Antonio Candreva's second-half strike was enough for Italy to end their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory in Albania.

Italy were already assured of a playoff spot for next summer's tournament in Russia despite their disappointing 1-1 draw against Macedonia on Friday night which saw them fall five points behind Group G winners Spain.

But Candreva's strike at the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder ensures the Azzurri will now be seeded for next month's two-legged ties.

Gian Piero...

Albania ultras supporter group told to stay away from Italy qualifier

Albania fans
Albania fans lit off flares in the stands during a March qualifier against Italy.

TIRANA, Albania -- Albanian police have told a group of home fans to stay away from the country's UEFA World Cup qualifier against Italy on Monday.

A statement on Sunday said the Illyria Elite group was banned from the stadium in northern Albania after "problems" at Albania's game in Italy in March. Italy won that game 2-0 which saw flares thrown on the field by a group calling itself Illyrian Elite.

Police also said they were taking extra security steps in the light of concerns over what they called...

 By PA Sport

Spain book Russia spot with comfy defeat of Albania; Pique jeered

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Spain sealed their place in next year's World Cup finals with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Albania in a match which saw La Roja centre-back Gerard Pique once again the target of whistles and jeers.

First-half goals from Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago helped make it eight wins from nine matches in Group G for Julen Lopetegui's unbeaten side.

The 2010 world champions are now guaranteed to finish in top spot as Italy - who started the day three points behind in second - could only draw at home to FYR Macedonia...

 By PA Sport

Albania appoint Christian Panucci to replace Gianni De Biasi

Christian Panucci has previously managed Livorno and Ternana.

The Albanian Football Association has kept faith with Italian coaching methods by appointing former AC Milan and Roma defender Christian Panucci as Gianni De Biasi's successor.

The 44-year-old former full-back, who played for Chelsea on loan at the turn of the century, was announced as the head of the national team on Wednesday morning.

Panucci -- briefly Fabio Capello's assistant in Russia -- follows in the footsteps of Treviso-born De Biasi, who secured Albania's surprise qualification for Euro...