Italian national team ensured their passage to the 2012 Euro at Poland & Ukraine after picking up another hard fought 1-0 victory over Slovenia as Inter Milan striker, Giampaolo Pazzini, deciding the outcome five minutes from time.
Despite the close scoreline, it was pretty much a deserved victory for Cesare Prandelli’s team as they were much more dominant but unfortunately very wasteful in front of goal and needed a pretty lucky break is sealing the game and their Euro ticket.
Needing a victory to comfortably sealed their Euro qualification, Italy started the match very brightly as in just a matter of minutes, Prandelli’s team could’ve scored two-three goals as Giuseppe Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo both failed to convert their chances. After 15 minutes of pure dominance, the Azzurri kinda slowed down the pace and let Slovenia get into their game a little bit as the away team managed to create some scarce through long range shots, which tested Gianluigi Buffon’s awereness.
Despite losing their dominant 15 sparks, Italy are still actually dominating the match as they created more goal scoring chances especially through Thiago Motta and also one 99% goal scoring chance from Daniele De Rossi which unluckily failed to be converted by the Roma man as he was just seconds late in tapping Montolivo’s cut back. Desperate to change something in the second period, Prandelli puts on Claudio Marchisio in place of Motta to insert a bit more creativity and dynamism in the Gli Azzurri’s midfield. However the move isn’t that much helping since some of the home team players looked a bit tired in the second period, although chances kept on flying for the four time World Cup winner.
After a rather frustrating night, Prandelli decided to shell out his cards by bringing in Pazzini midway in the second period for Antonio Cassano and also introducing Mario Balotelli in the final 10 minutes for the tired Montolivo. Those changes simply reformed the home team’s formation from 4-4-2 into 4-3-3 and the additional body up front is pretty much the thing that initially helped Italy in getting the winning goal through Pazzini, who blast on a shot right in front of the Slovenian goal, capitalizing on a lucky ricochet from Slovenian defenders, who tried to clear Marchisio’s pass.
The goal simply calm the Italian players’ nerves down as they took control of the match again with excellent possession football combined with nice through passes that almost gave them another goals. Fortunately for the away team, the Azzurri seemed much more settled in getting the victory considering the match is already heading for the final whistle, no more goals happened in the match and the home side simply booked their place for Euro 2012.
Italy v Slovenia 1-0
Goal: Pazzini 84 (Italy)
Italy: Buffon; Cassani, Ranocchia, Chiellini, Balzaretti; Thiago Motta (Marchisio 46), Pirlo, De Rossi; Montolivo (Balotelli 75); Cassano (Pazzini 61), Rossi
Slovenia: J Handanovic; Brecko, Cesar, Suler, Jokic; Birsa (Ilicic 55), Koren, Vrsic (Pecic 75), Kirm (Dedic 85); Radosavljevic, Novakovic