Sunday, 20 June 2010

ITA v NZL (1500 GMT)

20/6/2010 Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit Ref: Carlos Batres (GUA) Att: 38229

Starting Line up
Italy: 12-Federico Marchetti 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 4-Giorgio Chiellini, 3-Domenico Criscito, 22-Riccardo Montolivo, 6-Daniele De Rossi, 15-Claudio Marchisio (Pazzini, 61), 9-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 7-Simone Pepe (Camoranesi, 46), 11-Alberto Gilardino (Di Natale, 46).
New Zealand: 1-Mark Paston; 4-Winston Reid, 6-Ryan Nelsen, 5-Ivan Vicelich (Christie, 80), 19-Tommy Smith, 3-Tony Lochhead, 11-Leo Bertos, 7-Simon Elliot, 10-Chris Killen (Barron, 90+2), 14-Rory Fallon (Wood, 62), 9-Shane Smeltz.

After indifferent performance against Paraguay, Italian became more pessimistic over their World Cup campaign. To make the matter worse, Buffon became latest member of World Cup injury list, which made Italian defence even more disorganised.

Following their heroic performance against Slovakia, New Zealanders' team moral could not have been higher. With no major injury before this match, they were ready to do all again, just like last game and against unsettled Italian side, they have every chance to get a point again.

Match started with Italian domination. With De Rossi, Montolivo and Marchisio in the central midfield, New Zealand had no chance of matching against them. However, in the seventh minute, miracle occurred as Shane Smeltz from Gold Coast United scored against reigning world champion. Although it was offside (inconclusive whether Winston Reid touched it or not) but it was goal that shocked the world and woken up the Italians to attack. From that goal onwards, New Zealand half was bombarded by Italian players and as pressure piling on New Zealand defence, more desperate they got.

After Montolivo hitting the post, eventually, in the 29th minute, penalty was given by shirt pulling. After several delay, Iaquinta scored and Italy was relieved over defeat. They continued to press until the end of half but by some desperate New Zealand defences, the score was level until half time whistle. HT 1-1

In comes second half. Unlike before, Italy were quick to change their tactic, as New Zealand were not much of threat at attacking end. Converting their formation to 4-3-3 certainly stretched Kiwi's defence and during entire second half, Italy had most of possession.

But, as this year's Champions League final showed, possession meant nothing but mere statistic. With great goalkeeping from Mark Paston and Ryan Nelson, it seemed New Zealand defence was invincible. New Zealand, in fact, could've got winning goal when Chris Wood, Kiwi's substitute, took a shot inside Italian penalty box. Fortunately, it went wide to keep minimal Italian dignity intact. Fantastic achievement from a country without a professional league! FT: 1-1

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