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WC Qualification Europe
October 16, 2012
• 2:45 PM
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: D. Skomina
• Attendance: 37027
R. Montolivo 33'
D. De Rossi 37'
M. Balotelli 54'
W. Kvist 45'
FULL TIME IN MILAN. Italy remain top of World Cup Qualifying Group B after a relatively comfortable 3-1 victory over Denmark. Goals in the first half from Ricardo Montolivo and Danielle De Rossi and a Mario Balotelli strike cancel out William Kvist's goal as Cesare Prandelli's men extend unbeaten run in the group. Thank you for joining us on Goal.com! I'm Martin Macdonald, see you next time!
Yellow Card Morgan De Sanctis
Simon Kjaer attempts the spectacular from distance but De Sanctis makes an easy save. Not a lot of added on time. Italy running down the clock now.
Cesare Prandelli cleverly gives Mario Balotelli an ego boost by bringing the Italian off for Mattia Destro. The Manchester City player comes off to rapturous applause from the home crowd. He has been excellent tonight.
A chance for Denmark to give the game a grandstand finish now with a free kick opportunity just outside the box. Eriksen steps up an smashes the ball towards goal but the Italian wall remains strong to block the attempt.
Italy looking incredibly comfortable in the closing stages here. The Denmark heads went straight down as soon as Balotelli struck for the third goal and the visitors haven't really recovered for the rest of the second half.
Montolivo attempts to double his tally for the night with a drilled shot at goal from the edge of the box. Andersen gets his body behind the ball and blocks the shot and the Danish defence clear the loose ball to safety.
Yellow Card Nicklas Bendtner
Italian football expert Kris Voakes gives us his opinion on the performance of Bendtner this evening: The booking of Nicklas Bendtner earned a fair amount of applause for the referee! The big striker has been pulled up for pushing on a fair number of occasions now, though he and his team-mates seem increasingly baffled with each free-kick that goes against him!
A cross comes in from the left and Bendtner and Chiellini and grappling to meet the ball inside the area but the referee eventually gives a free kick to Italy. A yellow card is issued to the on-loan Arsenal man for dissent.
Yellow Card Nikolai Stokholm
Stokholm whips a fantastic cross into the box from the left-hand side but it evades all defenders and there is no takers for Denmark at the back post. The visitors will need to up the tempo for the remaining minutes.
Italy make their first change of the match as Claudio Marchisio comes off for Antonio Candreva. The Lazio man will slot in just behind Mario Balotelli.
The Danes look slightly out of ideas now. Bendtner was a danger in the first half but his threat has been negated well by the Italian defence in the second period so far.
Italian football expert Kris Voakes gives us an update on the atmosphere inside San Siro: There's a certain sense of calm around the place once more since Balotelli's goal, with Italy noticeably puffing out their chests a bit further with a two-goal lead now in their favour. The fans are loving the Andrea Pirlo masterclass right now!
Rommedahl showing signs of frustration now after needlessly bringing down Balzaretti when the Italian was facing his own goal. Italy will take that.
Christian Eriksen finds space on the edge of the area and has a crack at goal from 20 yards but the shot sails over the crossbar and does not give De Sanctis a problem. You would think after the Italian goalkeeper's slightly shaky first half that Denmark would be spraying shots on goal, but it hasn't happened.
Italy have began to assert their dominance in possession again in the last five minutes or so. Denmark are the ones chasing the ball but the hosts are in no rush to find the third goal. A two goal cushion may be enough for them to shut up shop.
Andrea Pirlo has carried on his imperious form from the European Championships in this World Cup Qualifying campaign. He has been superb again tonight in his passing and vision, summed up by his delightful pass for Balotelli's goal.
William Kvist Jörgensen
Well Daniel Agger is a lucky, lucky man!! Balotelli clips the ball beyond him and drives through on goal but the Liverpool man goes down softly as the Italian runs by him. He did have a had slightly on his shoulder but not enough to make him go down.
Soft penalty shout for Denmark after Michael Krohn-Deli twists and turns on the left before hitting a deflected cross into the box. Bendtner goes down under the attention of Barzagli but the referee rightly gives a goal kick to Italy.
That was a bit of a smash and grab from Italy there as Denmark had been dominant after the sending off. This games is by no means over, however.
Assist Andrea Pirlo
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOOOOOAAAAAAL FOR ITALY!! Well that shows you what I know really! Balotelli scores!! The Italian latches on to a fantastic ball over the top from Pirlo and anticipates Andersen running out before cushioning the ball past the Denmark goalkeeper into the net!! Very poor goalkeeping!
Yellow Card William Kvist Jörgensen
Balotelli doing his best in his now role as the lone striker. Montolivo will provide support from central areas but the Manchester City man is in danger of being isolated up top.
Denmark already looking slightly more dominant in possession now that they have the man advantage. Erkisen beginning to pull the strings in the centre of midfield.
Kris Voakes gives us this thoughts on that controversial sending off: Well the San Siro crowd has been left stunned by the happenings either side of half-time. From 2-0 up and cruising, Italy are now down to 10 men and protecting only a one-goal lead. There is bound to be a hot reception every time Stokholm gets involved in play from here on in.
The worst possible start for Cesare Prandelli's side. The Danes have already proved tonight that they are a big threat, but they will have the bit between their teeth now that they are a man up. Lets see how Italy respond.
Red Card D. Osvaldo
Early drama! Pablo Osvaldo is sent off!!! Stockholm goes down innocuously in the middle of the park and the referee shows the Roma striker the red card! An arm did come up but that looks harsh!
WE ARE BACK UNDERWAY IN ITALY!
HALF TIME. Italy looked to be heading into the break comfortably thanks to goals from Montolivo and De Rossi but a goal in first-half injury time from William Kvist has made the next 45 minutes very interesting indeed. Three points in World Cup Qualifying Group B up for grabs, join us in 15 minutes for the second half!
Goal William Kvist Jörgensen
GOOOOOOOOAAAAAL FOR DENMARK!! The Danes silence San Siro!! Jacobsen gets down the right wing again and stands up a cross to the edge of the box for Kvist who shows brilliant composure to volley the ball with a side-foot into the bottom corner from 18 yards! 2-1!
Dennis Rommedahl shows his superb speed by running beyond the Italian defence in the inside right channel. He latches on to a pass over the top and attempts a half-volley at goal but he was off balance and end up slicing the ball wide.
Balotelli has mostly played on the shoulder of the last Danish defender for the majority of the first half. He'll need to time his runs better though as he has been caught off side a number of times in the first 45.
Yellow Card Daniele De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi earn a well deserved booking after Bendtner stole possession deep inside his own half and went on a powerful run down the left-hand side. The Roma man took one for the team and grabbed a handful of the Dane's strip.
Italian football expert Kris Voakes, from San Siro, gives us his thoughts on this suckerpunch by Italy: The Danish supporters appear stunned, with their side having been more than worthy of their part in a stalemate just five minutes ago. Now, many of upped sticks and gone for an early half-time break. A devastating few minutes in the course of this match.
Assist Andrea Pirlo
Goal Daniele De Rossi
GOOOOOAAAAAAL FOR ITALY!!! Two goals within five minutes!! Andrea Pirlo delightfully wrong foots Stokholm on the right wing and dinks an inch-perfect cross into the box for De Rossi who powers a header down into the net!! 2-0 Italy!!
Balotelli shows of his power again as he turns and drives towards goal 25 yards out but earns a free kick in a dangerous area. Great chance for a shot on goal here.
Goal Riccardo Montolivo
GOOOOOAAAAAAL FOR ITALY!!!! What a finish!!! Italy counterattack down the left-hand side and the ball is played into the feet of Balotelli who flicks the ball into the path of Montolivo, who lashes the ball into the bottom left corner with a devastating finish! 1-0 Italy!
Save from De Sanctis!!! William Kvist breaks the Italian offside trap and picks up the ball in the inside left channel before smashing a shot towards the near post but the Italy goalkeeper is there to save with his knees!
Bendtner is winning everything in the air tonight. He was bullied Chiellini and Barzagli at times in the match. He must have been studying them during Juventus training sessions recently!
Denmark had the best of the opening play but Italy have just grew into the match as the game has went on. Montolivo and Pirlo are starting to see a lot more of the ball and it is benefiting the hosts massively.
Nicolai Stokholm has certainly put himself about so far in the match. He is not allowing De Rossi or Balotelli any time on the ball but he has committed a few fouls. He'll need to be careful that the wily duo don't earn him a yellow card.
Some vital points up for grabs tonight, but there is still time to appreciate the lighter side of life. Kris Voakes gives us an update on some comedy in the dugout: Fun moment in the Italy technical area! Cesare Prandelli turns to go back into the dugout but bobs his head down far too early, and ends up walking along with his head bowed for two or three steps. Straight out of the Ministry of Silly Walks, that one!
Osvaldo passes up a great chance!! Abate gets to the byline and whips an excellent cross to the back post for the Roma man, but as he is retreating when he meets the ball he struggles to get meaningful contact, and sends his header wide!
Kris Voakes gives us his opinion on that chance, it appears the Italian fans are raising their voices: Finally, the home fans are beginning to sing for their side, as Balotelli's cutback for Marchisio fashions Italy's first chance. Both side already have their full complement of three subs warming up, but it's hard to believe there'll be any tactical changes soon, even though this one has started slowly.
WHAT A CLEARANCE FROM KJAER!!!! Balotelli cuts the ball to the edge of the box for Claudio Marchisio whips a cracking shot towards the top corner but the Danish defender is there to clear with a fantastic header! Fantastic defending!
Fantastic speed and strength from Balotelli wins a free kick in a great position down the right-hand side for Italy. Lets see if they can give their fans something to cheer about.
Italian football expert Kris Voakes gives us his thoughts on the start of the Danes: The 3,000 or so Danes that are filling the top tier of the Curva Sud raise their voices, as they becoming bouyant off the back of that chance. How vociferous their fans becoming will surely largely depend on how often their side can put Morgan De Sanctis under similar pressure to that.
Denmark probing for the opening goal here!!! Its all very scrappy inside the area with a couple of Danish shots being blocked near the penalty spot. It ends up being Balotelli who takes charge by tracking back and smashing the ball up the park! The visitors have started strong!
Save from De Sanctis!! That was farely dodgy goalkeeping from the Italian!! Eriksen drives a shot at goal from the right hand side that had plenty of power behind it, but was very central. De Sanctis struggles with the flight of the ball before tipping over!
Balzaretti goes on a typical marauding run down the left-hand side and attempts to pick out Balotelli inside the area but a vital interception from Jaobsen sees the ball run safely into the hands of Andersen in the Denmark goal.
Some unsure defending from Italy give Denmark the chance to rob possession just on the edge of the box. The ball finds its way to Bendtner but his clipped pass through the middle is blocked by Chiellini and Pirlo tidies up.
Montolivo steals the ball in midfield and uses the space he has to test the gloves of Andersen with a rasper of a shot from range. The Denmark goalkeeper easily gathers then punts the ball out the park as De Rossi is currently down injured.
Italian football expert Kris Voakes gives us his thoughts on the opening stages: You've got to love when a player listens to what Mario Balotelli has to say, nods, puts up a hand and walks away... You've got to believe Claudio Marchisio paid little attention to his team-mate's advice in back play there! Meanwhile, Italy fans are still flooding into the ground... There are bound to me more latecomers to come too.
Bendtner misses an early opportunity!!! He should have done a lot better than that!! Jacobsen drives down the right-hand side and stand a perfect cross to the edge of the box and the Juventus man powers a header at goal but it goes wide of the post!
AND WE ARE OFF!
If Nicklas Bendtner scores tonight, he will become Denmark’s 10th highest goalscorer.
Following his goal against Armenia, Pablo Osvaldo has scored six goals in six games for club and country this season.
Some striker stats now.
The last meeting between these sides in 2004 ended in a 0-0 draw. Let us hope we don't see that tonight!
Lets get some some stats in before kick off.
Italian football expert Kris Voakes, from San Siro, gives us his pre-match musings: The newspapers talked of just 35,000 tickets sold thanks in part to horrific rain yesterday keeping fans from venturing out onto the streets of Milan for tickets. And by the massive queues still apparent outside just an hour before kick-off, it certainly appears that many supporters waited until the very last minute before deciding to head here for the match. And it's a big game too. Italy may have gone unbeaten so far in Group B, giving them a two-point lead over Bulgaria, but they have not been without their problems. A victory tonight is important, but almost as vital would be a convincing performance. If Cesare Prandelli's men can overcome the loss of Gianluigi Buffon, then they should do ok. He's certainly picked a big, strong line-up.
This is the starting XI of Denmark: Andersen; Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, Poulsen; Kvist, Eriksen, Stokholm; Rommedahl, Bendtner, Krohn-Dehli.
This is how Italy will be lining up tonight: De Sanctis; Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, Balzaretti; De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio; Montolivo; Balotelli, Osvaldo.
THE TEAMS ARE IN.
Italy currently lie first place in Group B with seven points taken from three matches. Denmark are fifth in the qualifying group with two points taken from two matches. An unbeaten, albeit slightly disappointing start from the Danes.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I'll be taking you through the action this evening!
Good evening folks! Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group B match between Italy and Denmark at San Siro in Milan!
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