Leeds United player creates slice of history in international surprise

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Leeds United’s Willy Gnonto has created a slice of Italian international history but ultimately with frustration as part of a national surprise.

Whites forward Gnonto was named on Italy’s bench for Saturday night’s Euros qualifier against hosts North Macedonia but was brought on by new Azzurri boss Luciano Spalletti with eight minutes left. In doing so, Gnonto became the first Italian playing for a second tier side to represent his country since Juventus trio Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon and Mauro Camoranesi stepped out for Italy against Scotland in March 2007.

Gnonto was introduced just one minute after Enis Bardhi’s strike had drawn hosts North Macedonia level in response to Ciro Immobile’s opener two minutes after the break. The Whites forward took his place on the left flank and quickly became involved with plenty of touches and darts inside in the Azzurri’s bid to bag a winner.

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Spalletti’s side continually attacked in a chaotic seven minutes of added time but North Macedonia held firm to claim a 1-1 draw. Former Whites star Gjanni Alioski played the full duration of the contest for the hosts.

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