Cesare Prandelli's men have become the latest country to qualify for next year's European Championship, after a late tactical change culminated in grabbing the all-important winner
La Nazionale had the majority of possession throughout the match, but had nothing to show for their efforts despite having a host of goalscoring opportunities to make their dominance count, mainly through the creative talents of Antonio Cassano, who displayed occasional moments of magic in the first half.
As early as the first minute was a chance developed, but Giuseppe Rossi could only manage the legs of Jasmin Handanovic, after bursting into the box from the right-hand side. Daniele De Rossi was also another guilty party, squirming a number of opportunities in the Slovenian area, including a wayward free header and failure to make any sort of contact on Riccardo Montolivo's inch-perfect low cross.
Cesare Prandelli's men also had a credible penalty shout waved away midway through the opening 45, after Cassano expertly scooped the ball over the visitors' backline, with Thiago Motta through one-on-one, but the Inter man appeared to have been pulled down as he was about to pull the trigger.
However, it was not all plain-sailing for the hosts, as Slovenia's frequent long-range shooting posed a potential problem. Andraz Kirm and Robert Koren had the best opportunities for their neighbours with stinging attempts, but Gianluigi Buffon inspired confidence between the sticks by being equal each and every time.
The second half begun less frantically, but it proved to be a rather scrappy first part of the 45, with no team coming out on top in the midfield battle that ensued. Suddenly though, the match was thrust back into life after Italy were denied twice off the Slovenian goal-line, as Daniele De Rossi failed to force his header into the net, and Giampaolo Pazzini didn't fare much better with his tap-in.
Prandelli threw on Claudio Marchisio, Giampaolo Pazzini and Mario Balotelli, along with a tactical change to a 4-3-3 system, in one last attempt to salvage the elusive goal to fire them to Poland and Ukraine next year.
Fortunately for the hosts, it came up trumps after Marchisio's floated ball into the box ricocheted off Balotelli at the far post, and Pazzini swiftly struck the ball with conviction to qualify Italy for Euro 2012 as group winners of Group C.
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