Expert analysis of the events in Poland and Ukraine
Back of the Net
The Back of the Net boys report on Italy 2-0 Republic of Ireland...
There were scenes of great relief as Italy overcame the Republic of Ireland 2-0 to book a place in the quarter-finals and earn the right to use a devastating array of football clichés.
Anything, except for Irish qualification, was possible heading into the final games in Group C and Italy knew that they needed to win and hope Spain and Croatia didn’t draw 2-2 in order to progress.
The Italian press had voiced fears that Spain and Croatia would collude to engineer a suitable scoreline but the two nations’ unimpeachable footballing principles and the lack of a mutually comprehensible language put paid to that threat.
But Italy found it tough to secure the three points they needed. Despite spending much of the game unsure where he was, which team he was coaching and if the Kingdom of Two Sicilies had been integrated into the Italian Union, wily 200-year-old Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni made life hard for his countrymen with Italy struggling to victory courtesy of goals from Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.
It was clear just how much the victory meant to an Italian side who were knocked out of World Cup 2010 at the group stage, before they’d had a chance to demonstrate even a fraction of the clichés they are capable of.
"At the end of the day, Brian…"
“Our Euro starts here,” Cassano declared in the post-match press conference. “I really feel that we can go all the way and we fear nobody.
“On a personal level it was great for me to score because I’m a striker and strikers love scoring goals.”
“On a day like today it’s the result that counts,” coach Cesare Prandelli asserted. “We’ll be taking each game as it comes and won’t be getting carried away just yet but winning is a habit and while we didn’t get out of first gear you can only beat what’s out there.”
FourFourTwo is still awaiting Trapattoni’s post-match comments, which he tends to communicate via pigeon post.
More match reports from Back of the Net:CRO 0-1 SPA: Spain no longer any good, pundits revealPOR 2-1 HOL: Things starting to look bad for Dutch, admits Van MarwijkGRE 1-0 RUS: UEFA hope Greece forget to claim their quarter-final slotPOL 0-1 CZE: Polish celebratory vodka repurposed as misery vodka
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