Monday, June 2, 2014

Italy 0 Ireland 0

On Saturday we went to see Italy take on Ireland at Craven Cottage as a World Cup warm-up game. It was a n experimental Italian team and a spirited performance by the Irish. Italy also had a couple of hard knocks in the game, with captain on the night, Montolivio being carried off with a broken leg after 15 minutes. Giuseppe Rossi, who was brilliant for most of the season at Fiorentina before picking up an injury was also given a chance, but ultimately he wasn't fit enough and hasn't made the cut for the final squad on the back of Saturday's performance.

David Forde was in good form in the Irish goals and saved early on from a good shot from Claudio Marchisio, but the first real chance came on 21 minutes when Owen Pilkington curled in a free kick, which Salvo Sirigu did well to save. Darmian of Torino who was making his debut for the national team came close a minute later, but it was Ireland who were looking the most convincing going forward and Sirigu was at full stretch to stop stinging shots from David Meyler and Shane Long in the half. More disaster struck Italy in the first half when Aquillani, who had come on for the injured Montolivio also limped off injured.

Ireland continued to pressurise the Italians in the second half with both Long and Pilkington forcing Sirigu to make good saves in the opening encounters in the half. It was Italy who were the first team to put the ball in the net when on 56 minutes Ciro Immobile put the ball in the goal, but it was ruled offside.

Antonio Cassano was introduced shortly afterwards and Italy looked a lot more confident and went for the win. It was again Ireland who came closest though and with 12 minutes left Stephen Quinn hit the inside of the bar with Sirigu beaten, but the game finished 0-0. Ireland can be proud of their performance and Italy will know that they will have Balotelli and Pirlo to come back once the World Cup starts properly.

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