Italy, Germany play to 1-1 friendly draw

Italy's Mario Balotelli looks to get by Germany's Benedikt Howedes in the two European powers' 1-1 draw in Milan Friday.
Felice Calabro'/AP

MILAN (AP) - Ignazio Abate scored his first senior international goal as Italy came from behind to draw 1-1 against Germany in a friendly at San Siro on Friday.

Germany took the lead in the eighth minute when Mats Hummels headed a corner in off the post, but Abate leveled in the 28th minute.

Germany also hit the woodwork twice in an entertaining first half but both teams struggled to carve out opportunities after the break. Benedikt Hoewedes saw an effort crash off the post as the visitors went close to snatching a win in stoppage time.

Italy was keen to maintain its proud record against Germany, while the visitors wanted to mark coach Joachim Loew's 100th match in charge.

The Azzurri have not lost to Germany since 1995 and won 2-1 the last time the two sides met, with Mario Balotelli scoring twice in the 2012 European Championship semifinals. However, Cesare Prandelli's team had won only one friendly over the past two years - against footballing minnow San Marino.

Germany was without Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker, while Mesut Ozil was only fit for the bench. U.S.-born striker Giuseppe Rossi, who is the top scorer in the Serie A with 11 goals in 12 matches for Fiorentina, was out for Italy with tonsillitis.

Balotelli has come in for some criticism of late and he started the game like a man with a point to prove. He fired a speculative shot wide of the right upright in the opening minute, before winning a free kick which specialist Andrea Pirlo drove narrowly over the crossbar.

But Germany took the lead against the run of play with its first real attack, when Hummels' header rebounded off the left upright and over the prone Gianluigi Buffon before crossing the line.

Hoewedes almost doubled Germany's lead two minutes later but he headed a corner narrowly past the right upright.

Italy appeared deflated after conceding and Germany again went close in the 17th minute when Sami Khedira's fierce shot seemed to catch everyone by surprise but crashed off the left upright. The ball rebounded off the back of Buffon's head but this time went out of play, much to the goalkeeper's relief.

Italy had not lost at home to Germany in 28 years and it leveled when Abate played a delightful one-two in the box with Leonardo Bonucci before curling a strike into the bottom right corner for his first goal in 17 matches for the senior side.

Germany almost immediately restored its lead as Andre Schurrle pounced on poor clearance but his dipping effort crashed off the crossbar.

Italy went close at the start of the second half but Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reacted well to stop Claudio Marchisio's shot from Pirlo's free kick.

Italy was controlling the game and Germany struggled to get a sight on goal. But that changed when Pirlo was substituted with eight minutes remaining, going off to a standing ovation from the San Siro crowd.

Germany almost won the match with the last kick of the game. Hoewedes hit the post and Marco Reus and Sven Bender clattered into each other in their attempt to follow up.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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