Friday, 3 September 2010

[Azzurri] Italy scrape comeback success in Estonia

Two second-half goals in quick succession allowed Italy to come from behind to start UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying Group C with a 2-1 win in Tallinn against Estonia, their first victory in 2010.

Overseeing his first competitive game since replacing Marcello Lippi following the FIFA World Cup, Cesare Prandelli watched his charges head into the interval 1-0 down after Sergei Zenjov punished a mistake by visiting goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

A pair of Andrea Pirlo corners nonetheless spared the Azzurri's blushes as Antonio Cassano finished on the hour mark and Leonardo Bonucci struck three minutes later, earning their side three points ahead of Tuesday's home meeting with the Faroe Islands in Florence.

Estonia, who already had three points secured thanks to their 2-1 win over the Faroe Islands in August, caused much of the early danger and they threatened with just 13 minutes gone when a headed pass from Sergei Zenjov released Konstantin Vassiljev with only Sirigu to beat. The midfielder fired over, but after Sergei Pareiko saved well from Giampaolo Pazzini's close-range effort, Sirigu failed to deal with a long-range Vassilijev free-kick and Zenjov converted the rebound.

The hosts nearly doubled their lead three minutes into the second half when Sander Puri's powerful shot from distance hit the bar with Sirigu beaten.

Italy were struggling to find space in attack, but Cassano eventually levelled the scores by heading in a Pirlo corner from the right. The AC Milan playmaker then helped Italy take the lead when he delivered from the opposite corner, with Cassano's back-heel at the near post allowing Bonucci to finish.

Elsewhere in Group C today, Serbia thumped Faroe Islands 3-0 in Torshavn and Northern Ireland recorded a surprise 1-0 win against Slovenia in Maribor.

Group C Results
Friday 3 September
Estonia 1-2 Italy
Faroe Island 0-3 Serbia
Slovenia 0-1 Northern Ireland

Group C Standings
[1] SER - PLD: 01 - PTS: 03
[2] ITA - PLD: 01 - PTS: 03
[3] NIR - PLD: 01 - PTS: 03
[4] EST - PLD: 02 - PTS: 03
[5] SLO - PLD: 01 - PTS: 00
[6] FIS - PLD: 02 - PTS: 00

Next Group C Fixtures
Tuesday 7 September
Italy v Faroe Islands (1950)
Serbia v Slovenia (1930)

Source: UEFA

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