Italy labour to victory against Malta

Italy laboured to a scrappy 2-0 win in their Group B World Cup qualifier against Malta in Modena on Tuesday, with an early strike from Mattia Destro and a late Federico Peluso header enough to earn them the three points.

Roma striker Destro latched on to a smart Claudio Marchisio through ball after five minutes but Cesare Prandelli's side struggled to build on their fast start in a lacklustre first half that drew jeers from the crowd.

Napoli's highly-rated Lorenzo Insigne replaced the disappointing Alessandro Diamanti at the start of the second half and Italy showed more attacking intent but had to wait until the last minute for Peluso to head the second goal from an Andrea Pirlo corner.

Victory puts Italy joint top of Group B on four points with Bulgaria, who beat Armenia 1-0 in Sofia.