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Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 World Cup: Italia 2 x Slovakia 3 from Ellis Park: Azzurri Eliminated in Disgrace

Italy's player Fabio Cannavaro attends news conference at Ellis park stadium in Johannesburg June 23, 2010 . Italy will play Slovakia on June 24, as part of Group F of the 2010 World Cup.  REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (SOUTH AFRICA)
Tonight was Cannavaro's 136th and last cap for Italy.
An unfitting way for the great Azzurri captain to end his
stellar international career.

Please read his pre-match comments at Soccerlens.

In a make or break match from Johannesburg, the Azzurri held their own fate. They had to win to assure passage to the round of 16. Paraguay faced New Zealand at the same time from Pokowane.

Gattuso and Di Natale Started

Mister Lippi called on the old workhorse, Rino Gattuso, to shore up the midfield and lend his significant experience to the side. Antonio Di Natale also received the nod to start up front.

June 21, 2010 - Centurion 8south Africa, South Africa - epa02214598 Italian National soccer team head coach Marcello Lippi addresses journalists during a press conference in team's headquarters ''Casa azzurri'' in Centurion, South Africa, on 21 June 2010. Italy will face Slovakia in the FIFA 2010 World Cup group F soccer match on 24 June.

Marcello Lippi: Defiant as always.

Azzurri Starting XI: 4-3-3


Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Criscito

Gattuso, De Rossi, Montolivo

Pepe, Iaquinta, Di Natale.

Manager: Mr. Lippi

Slovakia Starting XI: 4-2-3-1


Pekavik, Skrtel, Durica, Zabarnik

Strba, Kucka

Stoch, Hamsik, Jendrisek


Manager: Mr. Weiss

Match Official: Mr. Howard Webb of England.

First Half

The Azzurri initially showed some urgency and pushed forward. But without a playmaker, there was not sustained urgency or cohesion. Hamsik missed a great chance in the 6th minute with only Marchetti to beat. The Slovakians were creating space in the Italian half.

In the 25 minute, on a mistake by De Rossi, Vittek pounced and scored past Marchetti to the lower left post. This was the third shot on target by Italian opposition that resulted in a goal. Italy was playing without cohesion, organization or passion. Slovakia was playing with confidence and crispness.

Near the end of the half, Kucka almost closed the game with a shot from 30 meters that barely missed. Slovakia led at the half, 0 x 1. The Azzurri were at sixes and sevens.

June 24, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02220110 Slovakia's Robert Vittek (R standing) scores the 2-0 in front of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini (no.4) during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group F preliminary round match between Slovakia and Italy at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 June 2010.
Vittek scores for Slovakia.

Second Half

Lippi made two changes: Maggio for Criscito and Quagliarella for Gattuso. Weiss of Slovakia made no changes. Di Natale had a great chance but couldn't put it past the keeper, In the 56th minute, Andrea Pirlo made his first appearance in South African for Montolivo.

Quagliarella appeared to score but it was cleared off the line by Skrtel. The whole ball looked over the goal line. But in the 74th minute, Vittek scored his second.

Di Natale scored in the 80th minute from a one-two with Iaquinta amidst confusion in the Slovakian area. Then controversy came. Quagliarella scored but it was whistled offside. The Azzurri seemed energized and moved forward for the equalizer.

But then it ended for good. Recent substitute, Kopunek, scored over Marchetti into an empty net. Quagliarella scored in injury time with a great effort with a chip but it was too little too late.

The Azzurri become the fourth defending champion not to advance from the group phase.

Slovakia's players celebrate after team mate Kamil Kopunek scored a goal during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match against Italy at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Well done, Slovakia.

June 24, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02220156 Italian player Fabio Cannavaro (L) consoles teammate Fabio Quagliarella after the FIFA World Cup 2010 group F preliminary round match between Slovakia and Italy at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 June 2010. Italy lost 2-3.
Cannavaro and Quagliarella after the game.
The Napoli striker was one of the rare bright spots.

Match Highlight Video

Detailed Quotes by Marcello Lippi

Please read my commentary about this match at Soccerlens on Friday along with selected quotes from several players.

Image courtesy of La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The worst Italy of all-time is out."

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