Austria Score Four, Italy Score None But Draw

Italy 2-2 Austria
Karel Bruckner's men hit the net four times in Nice, Italy failed to score but somehow Marcello Lippi's men still managed to share the spoils. The coach celebrated his return to the bench with a rather fortunate draw as the 'new' Azzurri failed to shine.

First Half

Austria kicked off but, as expected, it was Italy who came out flying. Lippi opted to go for an attacking trident of Alberto Gilardino, Alessandro Del Piero and Antonio Di Natale.

It was Gilardino who had a great chance to give his side the lead within 90 seconds of the start. Gianluca Zambrotta was hacked down by Fuchs and he took the free kick with Andrea Pirlo. The stopper played a sleek one-two with his Milan team mate and crossed in for the Viola hit-man, who just arrived late at the far post.

Italy kept on pressing the Austrians who hardly touched the ball within the opening ten minutes. Zambrotta then tried his luck from distance with a powerful left foot drive but he saw his effort punched away by new Juventus goalkeeper Alex Manninger. Lippi’s 4-3-3 formation was working wonders for the Azzurri as they kept switching the play from left to right with Del Piero and Di Natale providing ample width on the flanks. Karel Bruckner’s side were also well placed and organised but pin point passing from Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi caused problems for most of the half.

However, for all of Italy’s hard work, it was Austria who took the lead through Pogatetz. The striker latched onto a loose ball which Bonera failed to clear and smashed a left foot shot past Gianluigi Buffon and into the top corner.

The goal sent shockwaves through the Italian side. Gilardino should have drawn the game level within seconds of Austria’s goal but he failed to beat Manninger one on one.

It was not the great start Lippi wanted from the players following his return to the helm but there was no sign of any come back as La Nazionale’s play became sloppy. Italia fans can be forgiven for thinking Filippo Inzaghi was playing given the sheer amount of offside decisions which went against them. Del Piero, Di Natale, Gilardino, Zambrotta and Gattuso were all the victims of the assistant’s flag inside a minute.

Just before half time Janko piled more misery on the Azzurri as his deflected strike in the box beat Buffon at his near post to double Austria’s lead. It was turning into an embarrassing night for Italy as the 15,000 strong crowd began booing and jeering Lippi’s men.

Ironically it was Austria who handed Italy a lifeline on 45 minutes when Stranzl put the ball into his own net from Di Natale’s cross.

It was an unconvincing half by Lippi’s side but the goal gave his side hope for the second period.

Second Half

Italy came out fighting but they looked out of ideas. The rhythm of the game slowed down and players looked tired compared to their Austrian counterparts. However, Del Piero should have equalised for Italy when a loose ball made its way to the Juventus striker. Pinturicchio found himself up against Ozcan but he scuffed his effort wide. It just didn’t seem like Italy’s night as chances came and went to no avail.

Lippi was huffing and puffing but his messages were not making their way onto the field of play as La Nazionale stuttered. Gilardino just wasn’t showing any of the bravado he has shown at Fiorentina in pre-season and it looked as if the players lacked the self-belief which propelled them to glory in Germany.

Roberto Donadoni’s Euro 2008 championship ended in failure and it seemed as if Lippi’s second stint in charge would begin the same way.

Lippi was finally spared some blushes when Ozcan dropped Zambrotta’s overhanging cross into his own net to bring the teams level on the night.

Italy then created several chances but Gilardino and Di Natale just couldn't decide which one of them should shoot when they found themselves in front of goal with ball to feet.

Neither team could find a winner as the game came to an end. Plenty of work to do for La Nazionale following this unconvincing performance.


Italia (4-3-3): 1 Buffon, 19 Zambrotta(Cassetti), 25 Bonera, 6 Barzagli(Legrottaglie), 3 Grosso(Dossena), 8 Gattuso, 21 Pirlo(Aquilani), 10 De Rossi, 11 Di Natale, 9 Gilardino, 7 Del Piero Subs: 14 Amelia, 2 Cassetti, 5 Legrottaglie, 13 Dossena, 22 Aquilani, 17 Palombo, 20 Perrotta, 15 Iaquinta.

Austria (4-4-1-1): 1 Manninger(Ozcan), 2 Garics, 3 Stranzl, 4 Pogatetz, 5 Ibertsberger, 6 Aufhauser, 7 Ivanschitz(Lietgeb), 8 Leitgeb, 9 Fuchs, 10 Harnik, 11 Linz Subs: 12 Ozcan, 13 Gercaliu, 14 Prodi, 15 Saumel, 16 Standfest, 17 Hoffer, 18 Kienast, 19 Maierhofer.

Cards: N/A

Goals: Pogatetz(A), Janko(A), Stranzl(A,O.G), Ozcan(A,O.G)

14′ [0 - 1] E. Pogatetz

40′ [0 - 2] M. Janko

45′ [1 - 2] A. Gilardino

67′ [2 - 2] R. Özcan (o.g.)

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Austria Score Four, Italy Score None But Draw Reviewed by admin Ucop on 1:40 AM Rating: 5

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