Lexical UnitsScenesConcept HierarchiesSound ExamplesParallel Texts

Del Piero justifies inclusion

Wednesday, 8 September 2004

[1] Marcello Lippi's new-look Italy achieved a narrow victory in Moldova as Alessandro Del Piero made a goalscoring return for the Azzurri.

Del Piero start

[2] Del Piero, missing in Saturday's 2-1 home win against Norway with a groin injury, justified his inclusion at the expense of Stefano Fiore with the only goal of the game just after the half-hour mark. After Milan team-mates Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo had gradually taken control of proceedings in the middle of the park, Del Piero, captain in the absence of the unfit Fabio Cannavaro, capitalised on Moldova's failure to clear a loose ball on the edge of their penalty area and struck a low shot to Evgheni Hmaruc's right.

Moldova lively

[3] The victory means Italy lead Group 5 with a maximum six points yet they had initially struggled to get a rein on Moldova's front man, Serghei Rogaciov, and winger Serghei Covalciuc. The two combined to good effect in the 14th minute when Covalciuc beat Daniele Bonera for pace down the Italian right and Rogaciov met the cross with a shot that just bobbled wide of Gianluigi Buffon's goal.

Buffon at his best

[4] Just five minutes before Del Piero's goal, Iurii Miterev put in a fine delivery that was missed by Rogaciov, but Covalciuc, rushing towards goal, got the header in, forcing Buffon to scramble across his line and make a superb stop. The Juventus FC player later produced another fine save to protect Italy's lead when he turned away Serghei Lascencov's ferocious shot for a corner.

Dadu off

[5] As the search for parity continued, coach Victor Pasulko brought on Serghei Dadu just after the hour mark. Dadu, however, went into the referee's notebook inside three minutes, and on 77 minutes, following a series of crunching tackles involving several players, Dadu received his marching orders for a challenge on Aimo Diana and Moldova were reduced to ten men.

Chasing shadows

[6] After that, Italy were rarely troubled, Alessandro Nesta marshalling the defence superbly, while alongside him, Marco Materazzi proved himself an able deputy for Cannavaro. Further up the field, Pirlo and Gattuso gave masterclasses in how to keep possession and run the clock down, Moldova's midfield chasing shadows for much of the closing stages.

Italy looking strong

[7] Top of the group after two games, Italy will travel to Slovenia next month hoping to have their injured players back, while Moldova journey to Belarus still searching for their first win.

Alessandro Del Piero celebrates with Andrea Pirlo