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Marica own goal hands Italy draw
An own goal from Ciprian Marica handed Italy a deserved draw in friendly international against Romania in Austria.

Marica nodded the ball into his own net in the 83rd minute after substitute Fabio Quagliarella had managed to get a touch to Andrea Pirlo's corner.

Marica had earlier been poised to emerge as the hero for Romania after scoring the opener in the first half, but finished with a goal at both ends as the Azzurri battled back late on.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli used the friendly in Klagenfurt's HYPO Group Arena to try out young players, including Mario Balotelli of Manchester City.

The former Inter Milan striker earned his second start with the Azzurri and played well but lacked a finishing touch.

However, Balotelli appeared to be the subject of verbal abuse from the stands throughout, although it was unclear from which section of fans it was coming.

Prandelli handed debuts to Federico Balzaretti, Andrea Ranocchia, Alessandro Diamanti and Christian Ledesma, and his side began brightly with Romania goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon forced to come off his line to deny Balotelli early on.

Midway through the first half, Balotelli's powerful free-kick was saved by the keeper while moments later the same player's 30-yard strike went just over the bar.

But it was Romania who made the breakthrough against the run of play in the 34th minute.

Italy's defence failed to clear the ball inside the area and it fell to Marica, who fired home beyond Emiliano Viviano.

The Azzurri almost equalised before the break but Pantilimon parried Balotelli's right-footed strike from 10 yards.

Prandelli made a double substitution at the break with Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino entering the action.

Gilardino got to work immediately and his shot from the edge of the area was saved by Pantilimon.

On the hour mark, Quagliarella replaced Balotelli and within moments the substitute wasted a good chance as he struck wide from a good position.

With 20 minutes remaining, Viviano did well to save Gabriel Tamas' bullet strike from outside the area.

And with the clock ticking down, Pantilimon could do nothing to keep out Marica's header after Quagliarella did well to flick the ball into the danger area.

# Prandelli hits out at racism

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was disgusted at the racist chants hurled at Mario Balotelli in the 1-1 friendly against Romania in Austria.

''I feel disappointment and anger,'' said Prandelli to Rai TV. ''We always hear these chants and something has to be done about it. We feel helpless. He has the support of everyone.''

It's not the first time Balotelli has suffered racist abuse. While at Inter Milan, the player was subjected to racist chants by rival fans. Balotelli played for an hour against Romania before being substituted.

The 20-year-old had a good game and was denied on several occasions by Romania goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.

''His performance was optimum,'' said Prandelli of Balotelli. ''He has done really well. It's a pity in the first half we didn't have much depth.''

Prandelli admitted his experimental team had struggled against Romania, with four Azzurri players making their debut tonight.

''That inexperience showed tonight,'' said Prandelli. ''But the team played better in the second half and in terms of personality, I am happy. The team showed character and we didn't want to lose.''
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