De Rossi Double Downs Georgia

Italy 2-0 Georgia Daniele De Rossi scored twice, one of them a stunner, as Italy made it two wins out of two in Group 8 by downing Georgia 2-0 at the Stadio Friuli in Udine. Italy, who struggled to a 2-1 win in Cyprus on Saturday, were hoping for a better performance in Udine, but had a whole host of injury problems to deal with. Alessandro Gamberini, Fabio Grosso and Rino Gattuso were all injured, with Antonio Nocerino a late squad replacement for the latter. Nicola Legrottaglie sustained a gluteus injury this morning but was passed fit to play. Andrea Dossena and Alberto Aquilani also entered the starting XI, while Mauro Camoranesi, Toto Di Natale and Luca Toni formed a trident attack. Georgia coach Hector Cuper had admitted prior to the game that his side were in emotional turmoil due to the recent political war with Russia. The Georgians, who lost 2-1 to Ireland at the weekend, were without key defender Zurab Khizanishvili, who had a knee problem. Aleksandr Iashvili and Levan Mchelidze led the strikeforce. First Half Italy made a strong start, and Gianluca Zambrotta’s intelligent pass found Camoranesi, who flicked the ball wide of the post. Aquilani then tested goalkeeper George Loria with a low shot from 25 yards. On seven minutes, Toni twisted and turned past Kakha Kaladze in the area, and went down, but the referee waved play on, much to the Bayern Munich man’s dismay. Soon after, Toni headed wide from a corner. On 14 minutes, Di Natale had a golden chance to give his side the lead, as he was put clean through by Toni’s fine pass, but Ucha Lobjanidze did superbly to track back and get a foot in, and the ball trickled wide of the post. This only delayed the inevitable as moments later the Azzurri took the lead, and what a goal it was! Daniele De Rossi twisted past Levan Kobiashvili and unleashed an absolute thunderbolt with his left foot from 30 yards, which arrowed into the top corner of the net. Italy were really out to prove a point following their post-Cyprus media bashing, and they were playing some excellent football in the early stages. However, on 25 minutes Georgia should have been level following a contender for miss of the season. The away side launched a lightning fast counter attack, Mchelidze crossed the ball across the box from the left, and Levan Kenia was left with an open goal at the far post, but somehow he took his eye off the ball, scuffed his shot, and Gianluigi Buffon was able to dive on the ball. Despite his miss, the 17-year-old Kenia looked like a real talent, and the Schalke 04 player began to spray some nice passes around, as Georgia worked their way into the game. Indeed Cuper’s men had a good ten minute spell of possession where Italy, despite being sound defensively, just could not get the ball off the visitors. The rest of the first half was played out with little incident, with Khmaladze’s tame header in injury time the only goalmouth action to talk about. Second Half Marcello Lippi made one change at the break, replacing the tired Pirlo with Sampdoria midfielder Angelo Palombo. Georgia also made a switch, introducing Kvaskvhvadze for Zaali Eliava. Georgia got out of the blocks faster in the second half, and Legrottaglie was forced into a fine interception inside the six yard box, following another counter attack. Cannavaro’s clearance then fell to Kobiashvilli who scuffed a shot well wide, before there was another round of substitutions. Cuper brought on David Siradze for Mchelidze, while Lippi introduced Alessandro Del Piero for Saturday’s hero Di Natale. Despite an impressive first 15 minutes to the game, Italy had been lacklustre ever since, and by the hour mark, a few whistles in the crowd could be heard. On 66 minutes, Italy had their first attempt for what now seemed an eternity, as Toni did well to turn the ball onto Aquilani, whose shot was spilled by Loria, before being hacked away. This sparked Italy into life, and Dossena burst forward and laid the ball off to Del Piero, who cut inside his marker in trademark fashion but curled the ball over. On 70 minutes, Vincenzo Iaquinta replaced Toni, meaning that Italy now had five Juventus players on the pitch. Iaquinta almost made an immediate impact just minutes later as he got onto the end of Aquilani’s chipped pass, and volleyed just wide. Moments prior to this the Roma midfielder had tested Loria with a shot from distance. With ten minutes remaining Camoranesi curled an effort straight at the ‘keeper, while down the other end Buffon had to be alert to race off his line to sweep up some danger. Iaquinta had his second attempt since coming on, as the game became more of a spectacle once again. Teenage starlet Kenia tested Buffon with a left-foot stinger, as Georgia refused to give in. Their resistance was broken though in the 89th minute as Del Piero picked out De Rossi's run into the area, and the Roma man scored his second of the game by clinically firing the ball into the far corner past Loria. All in all it had been a comfortable win for Italy, who go to the top of Group 8, with maximum points from their first two games. Teams Italy: Buffon; Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Legrottaglie, Dossena; Pirlo (Palombo 45), De Rossi, Aquilani; Camoranesi, Di Natale (Del Piero 56), Toni (Iaquinta 70) Georgia: Loria; Lobjanidze, Salukbadze, Kaladze, Eliava (Kvaskvhvadze 45); Kenia, Kobiashvili, Menteshashvili (Odkadze 69), Khmaladze; Iashvili, Mchelidze (Siradze 56)


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