Wednesday, 6 February 2008

[Azzurri 2008] Inspired Italy brush aside Portugal

Italy were in authoritative mood in Switzerland where goals from Luca Toni, Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Quagliarella saw the World champions ease to victory against Portugal.

Letzigrund Stadion, Zurich
Having won nine of their last ten Euro 2008 qualifiers, the Azzurri looked determined to continue that run at the Letzigrund Stadium and although Andrea Pirlo had an early effort controversially ruled out for handball, they were in control once Toni capitalised to score after Ricardo had misjudged a cross.

The goalkeeper could do nothing about the second goal soon after half-time when Cannavaro deflected in Pirlo's shot, and while Ricardo Quaresma revived Portuguese hopes 13 minutes from time, Quagliarella soon restored the two-goal cushion.

An Italy victory had appeared on the cards right from kick off when Pirlo saw his long-range effort scrubbed out, yet Bruno Alves should have given Portugal the lead midway through the first half but contrived to head over from close range.

It was a warning for Italy, and one that was noted as Roberto Donadoni's team upped the ante. Ricardo made a fine save to deny Antonio Di Natale following good work from Raffaele Palladino, but was culpable on the cusp of half-time when he failed to hold a Fabio Grosso cross and Toni pounced.

Ricardo made amends five minutes after the interval when he kept out Toni, yet any relief was fleeting and 60 seconds later it was 2-0 as Pirlo's right-footed shot deflected off Cannavaro and past the keeper.

It was all Italy and Ricardo was at full length to tip Palladino's volley on to the crossbar, although Portugal found a way back into the game when Quaresma fired in. A minute later, order was restored as Quagliarella, who had just replaced Palladino, volleyed in from close range.

Italy will face another Iberian test next month when they travel to Elche to play Spain on March 26.

Italy: Amelia, Oddo (Cassetti 81), Cannavaro, Barzagli (Gamberini 53), Zambrotta (Grosso 29), De Rossi (Perrotta 53), Pirlo, Ambrosini, Palladino (Quagliarella 78), Toni (Borriello 71), Di Natale.
Portugal: Ricardo, Bosingwa (J Ribeiro 69), Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves, Caneira (P Ferreira 46), Maniche (Raul Meireles 61), Petit (F Meira 46), Deco (Nani 46), Ronaldo, Makukula (Hugo Almeida 57), Quaresma.

[Match Report] - [Azzurri Reaction] - [Euro 2008 Rivals]

Source: UEFA

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