Pirlo and DeRossi with a goal each in each half give Italy the win after the team dominated a France that came close to scoring only a few times. Donadoni made some changes with respect to match tied last Friday against Romania. Gattuso was back and Cassano starter. Del Piero and Camoranesi were on the bench. Perrotta played behind the forwards, Toni and Cassano.
Domenech kept Thuram out, with Abidal and Gallas in the middle. Up front, Benzema Henry, Malouda on the bench. The match was refereed by the Slovakian Michel. In Zurich it was raining as it had been for the past two days stopping only a couple of hours this afternoon. When the national anthems wer eplayed a splendid rainbow framed the two teams on the field. Italy in white.
The first minutes were played in anh almost surreal silence, both teams seemed to be afraid. Italy has the first occasion on 4’, rebound Toni, Abidal, the ball is there and Toni shoots but his shot goes off to the side. A good occasion. France loses Ribery after only nineminutes after the player clashes with Zambrotta and spains his left ankle. Nasri substitutes. Italy tries again with Panucci haeding the ball the is blocked by Makelele on the net line. Italy is still not lucky. On 22’, Pirlo serves Perrotta who is all alone in front of Coupet, but is not able to control the ball. On 24’, another fantastic pass from Pirlo to Toni, the forward controls perfectly, but just as he is ready to shoot Abidal fouls and Michel grants the penalty kick to Italy and red-cards Abidal. Andrea Pirlo scorse. Buffon does not watch. Italy goes ahead. Nasri goes out and in goes the former Juventus player, Boumsong. Italy almost scores again with a shot from the distance by DeRossi that is just over the crossbar. Italy almost scores again on 28’ with a shot by Toni. Pirlo serves Toni again and his shot is too high.
Another chance for Toni one minute later, but his aim is off. France has a chance with Henry on 34’: the forward from the right tries with a diagonal shot, but his shot is fortunately off to the side. Italy backs up a little and France tries to push ahead. On 43’, Italy is unlucky again: free kick by Grosso and the ball hits the goalpost after a deviation by Coupet (his teammate on the Lyons team). The first half finishes. The second half starti with a chance for France with a shot by Benzema that is too high. Buffon saves on a shot from the distance by Henry. On 10’, the stadium explodes in a cheer because of the goal by Huntelaar.
On 16’, great pass by Cassano for Toni, by the pass from the Sampdoria player is a little too long. One minute later, Italy scores. Free kick from 30 meters, DeRossi shoots, but Henry deviates the ball and sends Coupet off to the other side of the net. Italy is ahead 2-0. The midfielder makes a crazy rush to Gamberoni on the bench, while Materazzi runs to Buffon. CAmoranesi goes in for Perrotta.
Our team has the best goalkeeper in the world and he proves this on 29’ when he deviates a shot by Benzema. Italy controls the match and Alberto Aquilani makes his debut in these European Championships after going in as the nineteenth player used by Donadoni. The match ends, and the team returns to Baden, in five days they play against Spain, and they will have to do without Pirlo and Gattuso, both disqualified.
Here is the scoreboard of the match: FRANCE-ITALY 0-2
France (4-4-2): Coupet; Clerc, Abidal, Gallas, Evra; Govou (21’ st Anelka), Toulalan, Makelele, Ribery (9’ pt Nasri- 25’ pt Boumsong), Benzema, Henry. Substitutes: Frey, Mandanda, Thuram, Squillaci, Sagnol, Vieira, Malouda, Diarra, Gomis. Head coach: Domenech
Italy (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso; Gattuso (36’ Aquilani), De Rossi, Pirlo (10’ st Ambrosini); Perrotta (19’ st Camoranesi); Toni, Cassano. Substitutes: Amelia, De Sanctis, Gamberini, Barzagli, Materazzi, Del Piero, Borriello, Quagliarella, Di Natale. Head coach: Donadoni
Referee: Michel (Svk)
Scorers: 24’ pt penalty kick Pirlo, 17’ st De Rossi
Notes: yellow-carded Evra, Pirlo, Chiellini, Govou, Gattuso, Boumsong, Henry. Recovery 3’ pt, 3’ st. Spectators about 30,585.
Text Source: FGCI (Italian Soccer Federation) http://www.figc.it/en/204/19021/2008/06/News.shtml
Image Source: Euro 2008 (http://en.euro2008.uefa.com/index.html)