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4 months on, Italy-Germany ends scoreless in Milan

Associated Press logo Associated Press 16-11-2016 By DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press
Italy's national players stand together for the team picture prior an international friendly soccer match between Italy and Germany, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) © The Associated Press Italy's national players stand together for the team picture prior an international friendly soccer match between Italy and Germany, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN — Four months proved to be a long time in international football as Italy drew 0-0 against Germany on Tuesday in a match which bore little resemblance to their enthralling encounter at the European Championship.

The teams on a cold night in Milan were very different from those which faced each other in the quarterfinals in Bordeaux on July 2 — a match won by Germany on penalties after it finished 1-1.

Both teams lined up with just four players who had started for them in France, while Italy also had a new coach in Gian Piero Ventura.

Yannick Gerhardt made his international debut in a youthful Germany side.

"It was a very tactical game, well played by both teams," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "It was a great test for our youngsters. We fought well, it was a good match also for the fans. We didn't play as well in the second half maybe but overall I'm happy.

"So many of the lads have little international experience, they're young. So playing this match, with this kind of crowd, added to their growth ... The result wasn't important, but rather the attitude of these players."

Andrea Belotti has scored three goals in his past two Italy matches and he went closest to breaking the deadlock, eight minutes from time. The 22-year-old Belotti carved out space for himself on the right of the area but his effort crashed off the inside of the left upright.

"We did good things for long periods," Ventura said. "We were playing against the world champions. There is still a lot of work to do but the players are ready to do that. They want to grow, they want to improve, they want to train....

"I think it was a good performance, above all a good reading of the game. I think the future of this team is positive. I see it as rosy ... We are a good team and we're working to become a great team."

There was an unsporting moment before kickoff as the German national anthem was booed by a loud number of home fans but Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon led the rest of the crowd in applauding to drown out the jeers.

It was Buffon's 167th match for his country and the Juventus goalkeeper moved level with former Spain shotstopper Iker Casillas and former Latvia midfielder Vitalijs Astafjevs as the most capped players in European football history.

Nice forward Mario Balotelli, who has not been selected for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, was in the stands to watch his country.

Both teams before the match had said they weren't treating it as a friendly but there was little urgency among their play as they struggled to create decent scoring opportunities.

Germany's first real chance came in the 12th minute following a delightful pass from Ilkay Gundogan to Leon Goretzka but Buffon did well to block with his feet.

Italy went closest in the 25th as Ciro Immobile beat the offside trap to run onto Daniele De Rossi's chipped ball over the top but the former Borussia Dortmund striker fired wide of the right post.

Teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma replaced Buffon at halftime, to loud cheers from the fans in the stadium in which his club AC Milan plays its home matches.

Donnarumma made a rare mistake shortly after the hour when he allowed substitute Kevin Volland's effort to squirm under his body but the goal was ruled out on a marginal offside decision, to the 17-year-old's relief.

The match was used as a further test on using video replays to aid match officials in key decisions and the VAR — Video Assistant Referee — technology confirmed the offside call was correct.

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