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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Euro 2008 Qualification: Scotland 1 x Italy 2: Panucci Wins it at the Death

Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Click the image to see the goals.

The weather was cold and rainy, but the atmosphere was warm and festive at Hampden Park. A tremendous scene, both inside the stadium, and outside at such places as St. George's Square where fans could watch on large screen TVs. This was Scotland's World Cup final, and it was displayed with tremendous spirit and hospitality to many visiting Italian supporters.

Black Armbands for Sandri and an Immediate Goal

Italy, wearing black arm bands to commemorate Gabriele Sandri, came out and attacked in a 4-3-3. Scotland featured a 4-1-4-1 formation. Italy was immediately rewarded in the 2nd minute. Mauro Camoranesi threw the ball in to Antonio Di Natale, who quickly moved the ball to Luca Toni. The Bayern Munich attacker clinically finished with a deft right footed shot past the keeper, Craig Gordon. The festive crowd was silenced.

The Azzurri continued to maintain possession and move forward. In the 12th minute, Toni had another chance, but shot wide into the left side netting. The Scots then tried to move forward. In the 15th minute, an apparent hand ball by Gianluca Zambrotta in the penalty area was not called. It appeared to strike the top of his arm or shoulder. A few minutes later, on Scotland's first clear chance on goal, defender Alan Hutton headed a cross inches wide of the goal with Gigi Buffon beaten. Hutton would be a nemesis all night long with his speed and tenacity.

In the 31st minute, an apparent goal by Antonio Di Natale was annulled. Either due to an offsides position or a hand ball by one of the Italian attackers. Italy was playing well, and dictating the pace of this game.

In stoppage time, Scotland had their second clear chance. From a corner, David Weir had what looked like an apparent goal headed off the line by Andrea Pirlo. The teams entered the break, 0 x 1.

Offsides Goal by Barry Ferguson

The second half began with tremendous singing by the fans.

In the 49th minute, Di Natale headed in on goal, but it was saved by Gordon. Then the Scots began to look for the equalizer. In the 65th minute, on their first real chance of the second half, Barry Ferguson, in an offsides position, finished a loose ball that had been parried by Buffon. Hartley had struck the free kick, there was a scuffle in the area, a deflection, and Ferguson slammed the ball into the net. Mr. Gonzalez did not rule the play offsides.

Andrea Barzagli made several good plays in defense. Partnered with Fabio Cannavaro, he has produced some impressive games lately.

Wasted Chances by Scotland, Dubious Call, and the Azzurri victory at the Death

In the 79th minute, James McFadden had a good chance, but fired wide into the side netting. Two minutes later, he had an even better opportunity from Miller's cross, but he missed an open goal.

In the 87th minute, Christian Panucci almost gave Italy the game winner but narrowly missed a diving header from a corner by Andrea Pirlo. But in injury time, Panucci redeemed himself, and booked Italy's ticket to Euro 2008. From a free kick (that the Scots disputed on an obvious foul by Chiellini) by Pirlo, Panucci headed the ball past Craig Gordon. Scottish hopes died in that instant.

Panucci, whose Azzurri career was effectively ended by Marcello Lippi, is now a national hero.

Scotland, The Brave
This was a very well-played gamed under difficult field conditions. The fans were excellent, and both teams exhibited great doses of fair play. Scotland's road ended tonight; however, they defeated France twice, and have regained the respect of world football. They should be saluted, and their exclusion from next summer's competition is quite unfortunate.
Azzurri Restore Italian Pride
Italy showed that they are worthy World Champions. Tonight was their first competitive win on Scottish soil. They won this game on the pitch with a valiant display by the entire team.
Here were the stats courtesy of ESPNSoccernet:

Scotland Italy
Shots (on Goal) 13 (7) 17 (10)
Fouls 27 18
Corner Kicks 6 4
Offsides 4 3
Time of Possession 50% 50%
Yellow Cards 2 1
Red Cards 0 0
Saves 9 4

1 comment:

Prismatico said...

Lastima por Escocia, merece una Euro, salu2

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