Giampiero Ventura predicted Ciro Immobile would score for Italy in Israel, the forward revealed as he thanked the new national team coach for his impact on his career.
Immobile watched on from the bench as Graziano Pelle’s close-range finish put the Azzurri ahead in their opening World Cup 2018 qualifier before Antonio Candreva doubled the lead from the penalty spot.
But Israel battled back with a superb Tal Ben Haim chip reducing the deficit and Giorgio Chiellini’s red card increased the pressure on Ventura’s men.
The Lazio attacker came on as a substitute and his powerful finish from Pelle’s flick-on secured all three points for Italy in Haifa, and the forward revealed the “strong rapport” between himself and Ventura.
“This morning the coach saw me doing well in training and said I would score,” Immobile, who scored 22 goals for Torino in the 2013-2014 Serie A season under Ventura’s leadership, told Rai Sport.
“He predicted it. I’m happy. There is a strong rapport between us, very strong. On a personal and professional level, I owe him so much.
“We’re in a complicated group and unfortunately only the top team goes through. These trips can be complicated, but we got there and have the full three points.
“The fans need to keep cheering us on the way they did during the Euros and we’ll give our all to reach the World Cup. It’s an honour to play with the Italy jersey.”
Candreva accepted Italy were not at their best in the win, but expects the side to be ready for their next match, a crucial home clash with Spain in October.
“We all know in internationals games last to the 90th minute,” Candreva told Rai Sport. “We had this distraction, but recovered and worked together to reach the end.
“We struggled at times because we were down to 10 men and early on undoubtedly we are not 100 per cent fit, but I’m sure by the time we face Spain we’ll do much better.
“We had the game under control and must continue working on the certainties within the squad and the coach’s ideas.
“The group is fantastic, over two years we have built this exceptional desire to work together and represent Italy. We picked up where we left off and can now focus on doing well in the next few games.”