While Italy remain unbeaten in Group C, there were far from impressive as they beat the lowly Faroe Islands 1-0 behind an 11th minute goal from Antonio Cassano. The result has placed Cesare Prandelli’s side eight points clear of nearest rivals Slovenia in the pool with three games remaining. Slovenia lost 2-1 at home to Estonia and will travel to Florence on Tuesday to take on Italy.
With the first week of Serie A action postponed due to a player strike, it was not surprising that Italy were unimpressive. The lack of competitive match fitness apparent.
Prandelli started with Giuseppe Rossi and Cassano in attack and his selection paid dividends. Italy were first to threaten in the sixth minute, when Riccardo Montolivo set up Cassano inside the area and the AC Milan striker’s right-footed shot went wide.
Italy continued to press forward and went in front soon afterwards. Andrea Pirlo found Cassano inside the six-yard box and he fired past Faroe Islands goalkeeper Rene Torgard.
The hosts’ first attempt saw Joan Edmundsson’s right-footed strike deflected away by a defender, but they almost pulled level in the 24th minute with Suni Olsen’s 30-yard effort hitting the post.
In the 34th minute, Daniele De Rossi’s powerful strike from 30 yards was punched away by Torgard. Shortly after, Rossi wasted a good chance with his effort going wide. Italy almost doubled their lead before the break, though, but Domenico Criscito’s left-footed strike from the edge of the area was saved by Torgard.
Prandelli made his first substitution on the hour mark, with Pazzini replacing Rossi. The Inter Milan forward almost made an immediate impact, but his header from Christian Maggio’s cross was easy for Edmundsson to gather.
Italy were a little lucky to gain all three points as the Faroe Islands hit the crossbar in the 71st minute when Christian Holst’s effort rebounded off the bar with Buffon beaten.