Tuesday, June 17, 2008

UFEA Euro 2008: Day 11 Recap

Italy 2, France 0
Holland 2, Romania 0

What was expected to be one of the tournament's signature matches was a bit of a letdown, but you won't hear Italian fans complaining. The Azurri earned a spot in the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over France, combined with Romania's 2-0 loss to Holland. Despite the convincing win, their first of the tournament, the news wasn't all positive for Italy. Midfielders Andrea Pirlo, who scored the first goal, and Gennaro Gattuso, both picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament and will miss Italy's quarterfinal against Spain.

The game was essentially decided in the 25th minute when France's Eric Abidal earned a red card for a professional foul on Luca Toni and Pirlo converted the ensuing penalty kick. France followed with a few offensive spurts, but no sustained pressure, and when Daniele De Rossi's 62nd minute free kick deflected off the foot of Thierry Henry into the net, Italy were through.

By the time the Italians tacked on their second goal, Romania already trailed Holland 1-0. Needing a win to advance, Romania could manage only eight shots for the game, and fell 2-0 to settle for third. While Holland were the story of Group C, the key moment over the past nine days came in the Romania-Italy match when Gigi Buffon's PK save on Adrian Mutu denied Romania three points and kept Italy in position to advance.

For the French, the only highlight on the evening was coach Raymond Domenech proposing to his lady friend during the post game press conference. Interesting timing on Domench's part and no word on if she said "oui."

Italy will face Spain in the quarters Sunday in Vienna, a task that becomes even tougher for Italy without the AC Milan duo of Pirlo and Gatusso. Holland have a Saturday date in Basel with either Sweden or Russia.

No comments: