Football: Buffon safe for Italy in World Cup qualifier over Albania

Gianluigi Buffon during the match to qualify for the World Cup 2018 between Italia v Albania. Photo/Getty Images
Gianluigi Buffon during the match to qualify for the World Cup 2018 between Italia v Albania. Photo/Getty Images

Berlin goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has kept a clean sheet in his 1000th match, as Italy beat Albania 2-0 and remained joint leaders with Spain in their World Cup qualifying group.

Daniele di Rossi and Ciro Immobile were on target in Palermo, where the 39-year-old veteran Buffon also won a European record 168th cap, moving one ahead of Spain keeper Iker Casillas and Latvia's Vitalijs Astafjevs.

Italy improved to to 13 points from four wins and a draw in Group G, level with Spain, who won 4-1 over Israel in Gijon, with goals from David Silva, Vitolo Machin, Diego Costa and Isco.

Elsewhere, Ireland drew 0-0 in Dublin with 10-man Wales in a duel of unbeaten teams and now share the Group D lead with Serbia, who are also yet to lose and prevailed 3-1 in Georgia.

Wales ended the game short-handed after Neil Taylor was marched for an horrific tackle that broke the leg of Irish skipper Seamus Coleman.


Croatia beat Ukraine 1-0 in a Group I topper and now lead by three points.

Italy, meanwhile, took a 12th-minute lead from 2006 world champion De Rossi, who converted from the spot, after Sokol Cikalleshi had earlier threatened for Albania.

Immobile wrapped up matters by nodding in a cross from the right in the 71st, after the game was interrupted, when visiting fans hurled smoke bombs at the Renzo Barbera.

In the other game, Macedonia earned their first points of the campaign from a 3-0 victory at minnows Liechtenstein.

In Tbilisi, Serbia reversed Georgia's early lead from Nika Katcharava, thanks to Dusan Tadic's penalty on the stroke of halftime, a curling shot from Aleksandar Mitrovic in the 64th and a late strike from substitute Mijat Gacinovic.

They are level at the top with Ireland on 11 points, with Wales and Austria - 2-0 winners over Moldova four points behind.

Victory in Zagreb gave Croatia a three-point cushion, with Iceland now second, thanks to a 2-1 victory at Kosovo from first-half goals from Bjoern Sigurdarson and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Ukraine remained on eight points, a mark Turkey also reached from a first home win against Finland, 2-0 in Antalya from Cenk Tosun's early double.

European World Cup qualifiers continue with nine matches Sunday, including title-holders Portugal v Hungary.

World Cup 2018 hosts Russia, meanwhile, lost a home friendly 2-0 against Ivory Coast, with Jonathan Kodjia and Wilfried Zaha on target in Krasnodar.

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