TORSHAVN - Italy collected their sixth win
in seven Euro 2012 Group C qualifiers after Antonio Cassano's
early goal earned a narrow 1-0 victory over bottom of the table
Faroe Islands on Friday.
Cassano pounced in the 11th minute, controlling a superb
Andrea Pirlo pass before rounding goalkeeper Rene Torgard and
slipping the ball into an empty net for his seventh
The Faroes fought back valiantly and were unlucky not to
equalise, Suni Olsen hitting the post midway through the first
half and Christian Lamhauge Holst thumping the bar with 20
minutes to go.
A lethargic Italy held on and with 19 points from seven
games, eight ahead of Serbia and Slovenia, the group leaders
will guarantee a place in the finals by beating Slovenia on
"We tried to create more but were just too sluggish," said
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.
"At international level anything can happen. The pitch
played slow and we were missing the final pass but there are no
excuses when you have so much possession."
Prandelli sent out a strong side against the part-timers,
again pairing Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi up front, and they
almost took the lead within a minute through Riccardo Montolivo.
It was not long before the in-form Azzurri, who defeated
world and European champions Spain in their last outing, made
the breakthrough through Cassano.
The Faroes reacted well and created three chances in as many
minutes midway through the first period.
Midfielder Joan Edmundsson shot and then headed wide before
Olsen found space 20 metres out and struck a fierce drive
against keeper Gianluigi Buffon's post to bring the 5,000-plus
crowd to their feet.
Italy, who thumped the Faroes 5-0 a year ago, struggled to
create an opening, with Daniele De Rossi's long-range shot their
only serious attempt before the break.
Giampaolo Pazzini, on for the disappointing Rossi, added
energy to the Azzurri attack in the second half but it was the
home side who again came closest to scoring with 20 minutes to
go when Holst fired against the bar with Buffon beaten.
Prandelli threw on Mario Balotelli to stir up his side but
despite dominating possession late on, Italy rarely threatened a
The Italians have now gone a year without conceding a goal
in competitive matches.
"We've not qualified yet," said Prandelli. "We have to stay
focused. We've just seen how difficult this game can be."
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