Italy Out In Controversial Fashion

Italy 2-3 Belgium

Ten man Belgium played 74 minutes and did enough to send the Azzurrini packing from Beijing. Pierluigi Casiraghi's men were average on the night and it's Arriverderci China and gold medal hopes. However, Italy will feel hard done following some shocking refereeing decisions...

Italy's Olympic dream has ended with a controversial 3-2 defeat to 10 man Belgium. La Nazionale are on their way out of China thanks to some woeful refereeing as well as an average performance.

It's the same old story with Italy, high expectations, under achievement and the man in black making errors left right and centre.
First Half

Italy started the game brightly and, as expected, the came flying out of the starting blocks.

The referee had hardly finished blowing his whistle when Luca Cigarini fed Giuseppe Rossi. The Villarreal man controlled well and tried to turn but his effort was weak.

Minutes later, it was Sebastian Giovinco who tested the Belgium defence when he went on one of his trademark runs but although he did brilliant to skip his way into the box, the pint sized player couldn’t find the finish to match.

Italy kept pressing and eventually they found the break through they deserved.

Robert Acquafresca was brought down inside the box by Vermaelen who grappled the striker to the ground. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot and pull out a red card for the red faced defender.

Rossi stepped up and calmly sent the goalkeeper the other way with a fine finish from twelve yards.

It was not all plane sailing for the Azzurrini though as Belgium got back into the game within ten minutes of La Nazionale’s goal.
Dembele rose above the defence to latch onto a corner which was - to the naked eye - cleared off the line by Cigarini. Incredibly, the linesman ruled the ball to have crossed the line - a shocking decision as replays show the ball was cleared before it reached the goal line. Italy were shocked and the goal took its toll on Pierluigi Casiraghi’s men, as they seemed to lose their heads.

The Azzurrini huffed and puffed but they were caught out on the break. Mirallas did brilliantly to control the ball in the box, he twisted and turned Bochetti and fired under Viviano to give ten man Belgium a shock lead. It was poor defending by the Italians but their own fault for allowing their opponents to get back into the game.

Second Half

Italy came out fighting but they couldn’t break down their opponents who were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure. Italy were once again affected by a poor decision 10 minutes after the restart.

Rossi was brought down in the box by Bailly but the referee booked the Italian striker for diving. It was a harsh as replays showed that he had clearly had his ankle taken away by Bailly.

Italy thought they had an equaliser soon after, as Rossi volleyed home, but the goal was disallowed for an Acquafresca offside. This was also highly contentious, as it was a Belgium player who had played the ball to the striker when the flag went up.

On 66 minutes Italy were denied another apparently obvious penalty, as substitute Ignazio Abate roasted his man down the right before being barged off the field inside the area by Vertonghen. Again the referee gave nothing, while Abate soon left the field after picking up an injury.

The Azzurrini kept on banging at the door but they just couldn’t bring it down. It seemed as if it was going to be one of those games where bad luck ruined the day but finally the official did award them another spot-kick.

De Ceglie was hacked down inside the box and this time the referee gave a penalty. Rossi took the responsibility and you could see the pressure but he kept cool and pulled his side level. The penalty was a replica of the first and Italy had a life line.

However, just minutes later, Dembele restored his side’s lead with a left foot drive from 20 yards. Viviano was caught napping as the ball crossed the line. To make things worse, the goalkeeper reacted to some petulance by Mirallas and got himself sent off. The Belgian striker threw the ball in the ‘keeper’s face and Viviano hacked him down. The ref was quick to pull out a red and add further misery to the Italian side.

The whistleblower should have also sent off the striker as his action was violent, provoking and unnecessary. Italy crumbled and were never able to get back into the tie. Belgium held on and it's they who cause the shock of the round to send Italy home. The Azzurrini will look back at the game and feel that some poor calls from the officials also gave the opposition a helping hand.

Italia: 1) Viviano; 2) Motta, 3) De Ceglie, 6) Criscito, 15) Bocchetti; 4) Nocerino, 5) Cigarini(Abate) e 7) Montolivo; 11) Rossi, 10) Giovinco, 14) Acquafresca

Belgium: 1) Bailly(Makallambay); 2) De Roover; 4) Vermaelen; 5) Pocognoli; 15) Simaeys; 8) Haroun; 10) Vertonghen, 11) Martens(Vandenborre); 7) De Mul 9) Mirallas,18) Dembele

Goals: Belgium: Haroun, Mirallas, Dembele.

Italy Rossi x 2 (p) Cards: Vermaelen, Red/Belgium, Viviano, Red/ Italy

Exciting game that saw two red cards, two penalty and total of five goals.

18′ [1 - 0] G. Rossi (pen.) T. Vermaelen (red card)

24′ [1 - 1] M. Dembele

45′ [1 - 2] K. Mirallas

74′ [2 - 2] G. Rossi (pen.)

79′ [2 - 3] M. Dembele

81′ E. Viviano (red card)

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Italy Out In Controversial Fashion Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:16 PM Rating: 5

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