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11 October 2011
• Stadio Adriatico-Giovanni Cornacchia, Pescara
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
• Attendance: 19480
A. Cassano 22', 53'
G. McAuley 74' (own goal)
And the referee blows his whistle. Italy 3-0 Northern Ireland.
Into the final two minutes and Italy have lifted off the high tempo as they attempt to see out the remainder of the game. It has been an accomplished performance from the Italians who maintain an unbeaten run in the group.
Pirlo has a touch and tees himself up. However, his right foot effort shot is terrible and ends up closer to the corner flag.
Prandelli off his bench again and continues to call for Italy pressure despite their comfortable lead.
Feeney is called back for offside following a quick break from the visitors. Italy not troubled.
Morgan De Sanctis
Hudson with the throw for Northern Ireland, but Chiellini clears the ball. Corner to the visitors, but Chiellini is there again as Worthington's men press.
Italy maintain possession well and continue to press. Pirlo launches Giovinco with a great pass, but it's straight at Taylor who makes the save.
Under 15 minutes remain in Pescara as Italy continue to dominate the match. Prandelli's men have been outstanding in this half.
Own Goal Gareth McAuley
OWN GOAL! Oh No! Northern Ireland have turned the ball into the back of their own net. Balzaretti crosses from the left, but McAuley is in no mans land and takes a touch, only to see the ball ricochet off his knee and into the back of the net!
Nocerino tries to get the ball rolling for his side. Osvaldo finds Montolivo who shoots! Great save from Taylor who tips it around the post. Excellent stop from the veteran goalkeeper.
The Northern Ireland defence are holding on for life. Worthington's men cannot get out of their half. Italy are in command and in control.
What a chance for Northern Ireland as Feeny, who has just come on, blasts over from point-blank range. He should have done much better there.
Northern Ireland just cannot get a foot in at the moment as Prandelli continues to tell his players to push.
Great turn and volley from Aquilani who shoots from outside the box, drawing a good save by Taylor who dives to his left to make the stop.
De Rossi finds Cassani, he cuts it back for Giovinco who steams through on the edge of the area and hits the ball first time, but it takes a deflection and the away team can clear. Northern Ireland under the hammer. Italy look fresh and lively.
Excellent through ball by Pirlo who picks out Osvaldo's run, but Taylor is quick off his line and thwarts the Roma forward.
De Rossi looks for former Roma team-mate Aquilani who makes a diagonal run, but the ball is cleared.
Northern Ireland win the corner. It's swung in from the right, but Chiellini heads clear.
Goal Antonio Cassano
GOAL! Italy double their lead. Aquilani feeds Cassano who runs onto the pass and fires low across goal into the bottom corner for a sublime finish.
Montolivo does well to turn on the edge of the box and fires with his left. The ball is dragged wide of goal though. Osvaldo warms up off the pitch.
Balzaretti tries a cross field pass from the left, but his ball is poor and goes out for a throw in to Northern Ireland.
Cassano does well to shoot. It takes a deflection and goes out for the corner. Northern Ireland defend it well and clear the ball.
Italy restart the second-half and there have been no changes at the interval.
45' + 1'
Half-time in Pescara. Italy 1-0 Northern Ireland. Cassano's goal is the difference.
Cassani ventures forward and goes down inside the box under a challenge from McGiven, but there is no foul or penalty.
Prandelli demands more shooting from his players. He has asked Montolivo to support more attacks and shoot more often.
Giovinco tests Taylor with a left-foot strike, but Balzaretti is caught offside on the left.
Italy are starting to control the game. Northern Ireland are beginning to struggle in this final phase of the match.
Excellent ball by Pirlo as he carves open the defenders, but it's a big ask of Cassano to reach it as he runs out of steam. Nevertherless, the flashes of brilliance from Italy come and go.
Ohhh! Great skills from Giovinco! Dummy with the left, shoots with his right, but the ball is a little high and rises over Taylor's bar.
Northern Ireland are starting to raise their game in Pescara and it is taking its toll on the Italians as they start to make casual errors.
Ohhh! That should have been a penalty to the visitors as Balzaretti clearly impedes Little, but the referee waves play on. Italy escape danger.
What a save by Buffon! Great chance for Northern Ireland as McGiven slips through to head the ball towards goal, but Buffon flies across to make the save as he stops the ball from going in.
De Rossi goes for glory with a wild shot from outside the box, but his left-footer ends up well wide of Taylor's goal.
Italian nerves have been settled by Cassano who comes to the rescue once again. Northern Ireland may feel a little hard done by, but it was a classic goal from the Italians. The home crowd have also been lifted here.
Goal Antonio Cassano
GOAL! Italy take the lead through Cassano. And what a goal it is! De Rossi finds him brilliantly with an accurate pass and the AC Milan man smashes a great right-footed strike into the net!
Ohhh! Chiellini sends his header wide of the post for Italy. Giovinco swings in the corner, it takes a deflection and reaches the defender who comes in unseen, but fails to make the chance count.
Pirlo looks for Cassano with the long ball, but it's too long as another move breaks down. Prandelli asks Cassani to play further forward on the right flank. Not great from Italy.
Italy do not look focussed when moving the ball around. It's all a little bit tame from Prandelli's men so far as Pirlo fails to understand Giovinco's intentions from his pass.
Ohhh! What was that? Balzaretti's back pass puts Buffon under pressure, but the goalkeeper clears in time before Healy arrives.
Italy are finding it hard to create space here in Pescara. The Northern Irish are well drilled at the back and are all closed up.
Ohhh! Cassano shows quick feet as he tries to take on Hudson, but he is barged off the ball and the move comes to a halt for Italy.
Good save by Buffon who is forced to make the save from Little as he claims the ball. Risky play from the Italians.
Giovinco is playing well tonight as he tries to create the play for the Italians. He looks for Cassano, but the move breaks down on the edge of the box.
The game has not been sparked into life. Slow rhythms from either side despite Italy enjoying plenty of possession early on. Aquilani finds Giovinco who shoots with his left, but Taylor makes the save.
Prandelli is off his seat already and reminds his players he does not want to concede any goals tonight as a young Northern Ireland side try to impose themselves.
Northern Ireland get the game started, but it is Italy who win the early corner with Cassano. It's taken short but it comes to nothing.
For those who don't know, Italy are through to Poland and Ukraine next year having secured a place at the top of the group. Northern Ireland have no chance of qualification regardless of the result tonight as coach Nigel Worthington steps down.
Before we start talking, here are the official confirmed line ups for the game. Italy: Buffon; Cassani, Barzagli, Chiellini, Balzaretti; De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo, Aquilani; Cassano, Giovinco. Subs: De Sanctis, Maggio, Cigarini, Osvaldo, Astori, Rossi, Nocerino. Northern Ireland: Taylor; Hodson, McGyvern, Mc Alley, Norwood; Baird, Little, Davis, Healy; Evans, Gorman. Subs: Mannus, McLaughlin, Feeney, McCourt, McGinn.
Good evening, afternoon, morning, wherever you are following us from, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary of the Euro 2012 Group C qualifier between Italy and Northern Ireland in Pescara.
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