Monday, June 16, 2008

Italy 90’ of Emotion and Bad Luck: All Depends on Tuesday

The score was 1-1 in Zurich. A good Italy, that is not able to beat Romania despite dominating the field. Lobont, the Romanian goalkeeper, was able to save just about everything and in the final minutes Buffon was able to black a penalty kick by Mutu after a foul that only the referee saw, the same referee that in the first half had annulled a regular goal to Luca Toni.

Donadoni chnaged the team with respect to the one that went on the field in Bern. The scheme is 4-2-3-1. Five new players with Grosso, Chiellini, De Rossi, Del PIero and Perrotta. Del Piero captain. Even Piturca lined up his team with three players behind Mutu and Nicolae, but the three are Petre, Codrea and Chivu who are defenders for the most part. Chivu (Inter) and Mutu (Fiorentina) are the “Italian” players for Romania, along with the former “Italians” Lobont (Fiorentina) and Contra (Milan), with the Lazio player, Radu, on the bench.

The two teams start out studying themselves: the place at stake is very high. On 9’, Italy has the first occasion: Camoranesi for Del Piero, the ball is blocked, cross by Perrotta for Del Piero who tries to head the ball, but the ball is deviated by the defender even tough the referee does not give the corner to Italy. Romania tries on 15’ with Mutu, but Buffon is ready.

Italy starts off again and Toni has a good chance but his shot is high. The Azzurri have chances with Grosso down the left touch and Buffon is still ready after a free kick by Tamas from 30 meters off.
Romania almost goes ahead on 19’: free kick by Chivu, ball deviated by the back of Panucci and hits the goalpost, then Zambrotta sends the ball off. The Romanians lose Radoi, injured, and Dica goes in as substitute. Italy again with Grosso for Del Piero whose header goes off to the side on 27’. Italy unstoppable: Toni tries to head the ball, but the net defended by Lobont is untouchable. Romania tries with a shot from the distance by Rat that goes off to the side.

The Azzurri play better, but are not able to score. Italy again on 39’ with Zambrotta from the right, Toni crosses to Perrotta shoes shot is deviated into a corner kick.
Toni heads the ball and Lobont saves, but the ball rebounds and Italy tries again but Lobont sends the ball off. The Azzurri deserve to be ahead. Toni scores, on a cross by Zambrotta, but the referee annulls for an offsides that was not there. Italy is just not lucky.

The first half ends 0-0. The second half begins with Italy pushing ahead, the Romanians, however, play with ten players behind the line. Mutu tries on 9’, but Buffon saves. But Buffon can do nothing on 10’ with Zambrotta fails a back pass with his head, and Mutu gets the ball. For the Fiorentina player the goal is a piece of cake to score. It is a curse, but Italy continues: corner kick by Pirlo, header by Chiellini and Panucci from two meters off, scores, a goal that took four years to score.

Cassano in for Perrotta and on 18’, Cassano invents for Del Piero who sends an assist for Toni who is not able to score. Romania has a chance on 25’ with Nicolae, but Italy saves. Cassano again for Toni, cross for De Rossi, header and miracle by Lobont. Lobont saves again on a header by Toni. Only Italy on the field. But then there is the masterpiece by the referee Henning who on 26’ grants a penalty kick for contact between Panucci and Nicolae, a foul that only the referee saw. But justice does exist and has the shape of Gigi Buffon who blocks the penalty kick by Mutu. The score remains 1-1. On 42’, Italy again but Toni is not able to score after slipping on the cross from Cassano. The Azzurri try in every way possible, but the match remains 1-1. Now we have to wait until Tuesday to see if Italy will continue.

ITALY (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso; Pirlo, De Rossi; Camoranesi (40’ st Ambrosini), Del Piero (32’ st Quagliarella), Perrotta (12’ st Cassano); Toni. Substitutes: Amelia, De Sanctis, Barzagli, Gamberini, Materazzi, Gattuso, Aquilani, Di Natale, Borriello. Head coach: Donadoni

ROMANIA (4-1-3-2):Lobont; Contra, Tamas, Goian, Rat; Radoi (25’ pt Dica); Petre (14’ st Nicolita), Codrea, Chivu; Mutu (43’ st Cocis), D. Nuculae. Substitutes: Popa, Stancioiu, Marica, Sapunaru, Ghionea, Moti, M. Niculae, Cristea, Radu. Head coach: Piturca

Referee: Henning Ovrebo (Nor)
Scorers: 9’ st Mutu (R), 11’ st Panucci (I)

Note: yellow-carded Mutu, Chivu, Pirlo, Goian, De Rossi. Extra-time: 3’ pt, 3’ st. Spectators 30,858

Text Source: FGCI (Italian Soccer Federation)
Image Source: Associated Press

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