Saturday, 5 September 2009

[WC Qual] Kaladze calamities gift Italy victory

Georgia 0-2 ItalyGeorgia defender Kakha Kaladze scored two calamitous own goals to hand stuttering Italy a fortunate 2-0 win to keep the Azzurri top of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 8.

The world champions had to rely on AC Milan's Kaladze - playing his first competitive game since undergoing knee surgery in March - to end a run of three games without a goal.

An extraordinary diving header from Angelo Palombo's ball into the box gave Italy the lead on 56 minutes before Kaladze diverted Domenico Criscito's cross into the net after trying to clear with his wrong foot 11 minutes later.

Italy, who lost to Egypt and Brazil at the FIFA Confederations Cup and drew 0-0 with Switzerland in a friendly last month, again lacked creativity but can take a big step towards qualification in Wednesday's game with Bulgaria in Turin.

Georgia, bottom of the group, made a bright start and refused to let a renovated Italy settle.

Coach Marcello Lippi opted for a 4-4-2 formation with usual right winger Mauro Camoranesi on the left and the ineffective Marco Marchionni, returning after a three-year absence, on the right.

Sampdoria's Palombo started in midfield with Daniele De Rossi suspended and Gennaro Gattuso injured but Italy again failed to support the strikers with runners.

Chances were rare in Tbilisi with forward Vincenzo Iaquinta falling over on the slippery surface when in a good position and Giorgio Chiellini heading a corner just wide.

Left back Criscito, preferred to Fabio Grosso, had a shout for a penalty late in a lacklustre first half where Italy looked nothing like world champions.

Two enormous slices of fortune spared their blushes and there was almost another own goal late on when Gianluigi Buffon made a stunning save from Chiellini's botched clearance.

Italy's problem in front of goal was underlined in injury time when Fabio Quagliarella hit the post and Iaquinta struck the other post on the rebound.

Lippi's men top Group 8 with 17 points from seven matches and will move four points clear of the Republic of Ireland if they beat Bulgaria on Wednesday night.

Second-placed Ireland, who beat Cyprus 2-1 tonight, have 16 points from eight matches and Bulgaria, in third, have 11 from seven. Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia are already out of qualifying contention.

Group 8 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Bulgaria 4-1 Montenegro
Cyprus 1-2 Ireland
Georgia 0-2 Italy

Group 8 Standings:
[1] ITA - PLD: 07 - PTS: 17
[2] IRE - PLD: 08 - PTS: 16
[3] BUL - PLD: 07 - PTS: 11
[4] CYP - PLD: 07 - PTS: 05
[5] MON - PLD: 07 - PTS: 04
[6] GEO - PLD: 08 - PTS: 03

Next Group 8 Fixtures:
Wednesday 9 September
Italy v Bulgaria
Montenegro v Cyprus

Group 1 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Denmark 1-1 Portugal
Hungary 1-2 Sweden

Group 2 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Israel 0-1 Latvia
Moldova 0-0 Luxembourg
Switzerland 2-0 Greece

Group 3 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Poland 1-1 Northern Ireland
Slovakia 2-2 Czech Republic

Group 4 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Azerbaijan 1-2 Finland
Russia 3-0 Liechtenstein

Group 5 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Armenia 0-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Spain 5-0 Belgium
Turkey 4-2 Estonia

Group 6 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Croatia 1-0 Belarus
Ukraine 5-0 Andorra

Group 7 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Austria 3-1 Faroe Islands
France 1-1 Romania

Group 9 Results:
Saturday 5 September
Iceland 1-1 Norway
Scotland 2-0 FYR Macedonia

World Cup qualifiers so far:
Saturday 15 May 2004
South Africa (Africa 2010 Hosts)
Saturday 6 June 2009
Japan (Asia Round 4 Group 1), Australia (Asia Round 4 Group 1), South Korea (Asia Round 4 Group 2), Netherlands (Europe Group 9)
Wednesday 17 June 2009
North Korea (Asia Round 4 Group 2)
Saturday 5 September 2009
Brazil (South America)
Sunday 6 September 2009
Ghana (Africa Group 4)

Source: Reuters

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