Italy 2-0 Bulgaria: Grosso & Iaquinta On The Scoresheet As ItalJuve Shine


An Azzurri side containing seven Juventus players delivered their best performance of Marcello Lippi’s second reign.

Italy edged closer to qualification for the 2010 World Cupwith a 2-0 victory over Bulgaria in Turin, with Fabio Grosso and Vincenzo Iaquinta scoring the goals.

The Azzurri came into this game knowing that a win would put them four points clear of second-placed Ireland, with only two games remaining, ahead of the big meeting in Dublin next month. Bulgaria, meanwhile, desperately needed a result to give them a chance of earning a playoff spot.

Italy made a number of changes from the dour 2-0 weekend win in Georgia. Daniele De Rossi returned from suspension, Grosso replaced Domenico Criscito at left back, while Claudio Marchisio and Alberto Gilardino also started. 

Andrea Pirlo was pushed forward into his old trequartista position, but in total there were seven Juventus players on the pitch. Bulgaria were pinning their hopes on Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov, who led the attack.

Italy made a strong start, with Marchisio firing straight at Dimitar Ivankov at the back post and Gilardino just failing to connect on Grosso’s inviting cross.

On 10 minutes Italy took the lead with a fantastic goal from Grosso. The Juventus full-back, playing on his new home ground, combined with Pirlo who lifted a delightful chipped pass into his path, and Grosso thumped the ball past Ivankov.

It should have been 2-0 moments later as Zambrotta was put clean through on goal, and cut back to provider Iaquinta who miss-kicked on an open goal.

Italy were in complete control, and were relishing the 4-3-1-2 formation, but they were almost caught on the counter midway through the half, only for Dimitar Rangelov to shoot tamely at Gianluigi Buffon.

Bulgaria should have had an equaliser on 26, but for a simply miraculous save by Buffon. The goalkeeper somehow clawed the ball out of the top corner from Stilian Petrov’s header. It was a save that not even superman could have made!

Chances continued to come at both ends, as both De Rossi and Stilian Petrov fired inches wide, while Iaquinta twice headed off target from close range.

On 39 minutes, Italy doubled their lead with another brilliant goal. Some intelligent movement off the ball culminated in Iaquinta playing a one-two with Gilardino before burying his finish past Ivankov.

There were no changes at half time, and the beginning of the second half was characterised by Italy keeping possession and slowing the tempo.

Just shy of the hour mark, Italy made the first substitution of the game as Giuseppe Rossi replaced Gilardino. Rossi immediately tested Ivankov on two occasions.

Bulgaria substitute Valeri Bojinov forced Buffon into a save, while the disappointing Berbatov headed straight at the ‘keeper.

Italy’s first real chance of the second period came on 65 minutes as Camoranesi located Marchisio with a superb raking pass, and the youngster pulled his shot just wide.

Marchisio left the field to a standing ovation as he was replaced by Simone Pepe, while another Bulgarian sub Blagoy Georgiev curled a free kick not too far past the post. Fabio Cannavaro picked up a yellow card in conceding that free kick and will be suspended for the trip to Ireland.

Italy had taken their foot off the gas, and Bulgaria were threatening more and more. Bojinov flashed an effort inches past the post. Down the other end Ivankov saved from Rossi.

The rest of the game passed by without much incident, and Italy will be very pleased with their performance – certainly the best of Marcello Lippi’s second reign as Azzurri coach.


~ by footballdirecta on September 10, 2009.

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