Italy coach Antonio Conte hit out at referee Martin Atkinson for disallowing a first-half goal in his side’s 1-1 Euro 2016 qualifying draw against Croatia on Friday.
Stephan El Shaarawy thought he had broken the deadlock in the Group H Split clash after 10 minutes as he converted Graziano Pelle’s flick, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
To make matters worse for Italy, Conte’s men immediately found themselves behind as Mario Mandzukic scored for the hosts, much to the visitors’ ire.
An Antonio Candreva penalty ensured a point for Italy, but Conte was left frustrated at the decision in the El Shaarawy incident.
“We were a bit naive, but we were convinced it was a goal and the players were celebrating,” he told Rai Sport. “It was a double blow because the goal was not offside.
“At the very least the referee should’ve found some reason to stop the counter-attack, in my view.”
Conte, however, was able to find plenty of positives from a result that leaves Italy two points behind leaders Croatia in Group H and two clear of third-placed Norway.
He added: “I think we put in a good performance with character and courage. I am happy, but we know there is work to be done.
“The young players are growing and gaining experience, which is very important.
“I think aside from the result it was a good performance and a huge step forward from the 1-1 draw against Croatia at San Siro in November.
“In fact, I think we deserved something more.”
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