Despite an early lead off a well struck ball by Di Natale into the bottom left-hand corner of the islander’s goal, Cyprus with their attacking play, equalized in the 29th minute off the foot of Aloneftis.
Italy have been the victim of poor defending however no blame can be given to Gigi Buffon the Italian keeper, as Cyprus kept pushing and eventually dominated the back four of Italy with a well deserved goal.
Manager Lippi was forced to make two substitutions early on (a possible excuse for their disorganized state) so that will limit options for the second 45. Gamberini(4′) and Gross (18′) are the players who made way for substitutes Barzaghi and Cassetti. Alessandro Del Piero did not start for the Azzurri because of pre-match injury concerns. Manager Lippi has decided to play a two prong attack with Luca Toni and Alberto Gilardino up front, supported by Antonio Di Natale and Mauro Camoranesi on the flanks.
Head to Head Meetings between these two have seen Italy win 5, and draw 1 with 17 goals for and 2 goals against.
For game stats see below, and remember the 2nd half coverage is viewable LIVE at SportsXchange[dot]com for FREE.
Starting XI for Italy – Buffon, Zambrotta, Gamberini, Cannavaro, Grosso, Camoranesi, DeRossi, Pirlo, Gilardino, Di Natale, Toni
NEWSFLASH – Gennaro Gattuso brought on for Luca Toni at the start of the second half, Lippi has no more substitutions, looks like the manager feels some holes have to be plugged.
ITALY WIN 2 – 1 in the dying moments literally off the last touch of the ball Gilardino backheels the ball to Camoranesi who chips it over the final defender for Di Natale to score the winner and his second goal of the match. This was the most entertaining play of the entire 90 minutes for the Azzurri in my opinion. Marcello Lippi was probably pleasantly pleased with the late recovery but he definitely kept that to himself as the rest of the bench celebrated the late winner by Di Natale.