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May 31, 2013
• Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
Referee: M. Borg
• Attendance: 24804
A. Poli 28'
A. Gilardino 34'
A. Pirlo 51'
A. Aquilani 79'
That's your lot folks from the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara. Be sure to stick around Goal for reaction from tonight's action and build up to the Confederations Cup, which Italy will be taking part in. For now though, from me, Harry Slavin, it's goodnight!
FULL-TIME: ITALY 4-0 SAN MARINO. It's all over in Bologna and Italy, as everybody could have predicted, have run out comfortable winners. Now Prandelli takes his men into the important month of June, knowing his side are more than capable of beating the likes of San Marino. Good.
90' + 2'
Rinaldi threatens to break free for San Marino in the final minute! However Ogbonna is across well to clear the danger and any whiff of an away goal is snuffed out.
CROSSBAR!!! Cerci is picked out by Pirlo brilliantly on the right wing. The Torino man finally picks out a blue shirt in the middle but Balotelli's thumping header comes back off the bar and Sau cannot put the rebound on target.
ALMOST FIVE!!! A typically powerful run from Balotelli goes unchallenged as he ghosts past a number of challenges. The ex-Man City striker looks up on the edge of the box and sends a low effort just wide of Simoncini's left-hand post. Close.
Balotelli's hold up play has been textbook since he came on. San Marino are finding it virtually impossible to dispossess him.
Into the final five minutes we go. Italy players are still queuing up on the edge of the area, sniffing for a goal.
The scoreline has only just crept into the kind of territory Italy fans would have been expecting. It has been a bold performance from a San Marino side that is use to taking heavy batterings. I dare say they might even be pleased with this scoreline.
GOOOAAALLL!!! AQUILANI GETS HIS GOAL!!! By far the easiest chance the Fiorentina midfielder has had all night, Aquilani finally gets on the scoresheet as Pirlo's low free kick is spilled into the path of the no.7 and he taps home the Azzurri's fourth.
Goal Alberto Aquilani
Danilo Ezequiel Rinaldi
Balotelli is felled on the edge of the area once more. It's a lot closer than the first two opportunities Pirlo and Balotelli have had to strike the ball.
Cerci continues to impress since his arrival. Once again though his cross can't pick out a blue shirt in the box.
All these substitutions have seen the Azzurri lose their rhythm. They've created a lot fewer clear cut chances in this second period.
Balotelli battles his way into the San Marino area. Like a hurricane, he leaves the penalty area in a state of devastation, leaving two San Marino defenders sprawled out on the turf. The second tussle was a touch to rough for the referee's liking though and the Milan forward is penalised.
Alessandro Della Valle
Aquilani just cannot score tonight! He's presented with yet another opportunity but fires straight at Simoncini on this occasion.
Another flutter of substitutions as this game slowly drags itself to a conclusion. We still have just over 20 minutes left. I reckon Italy have two goals left in them. Anybody care to raise?
Another goal ruled out for Italy. This time Aquilani's acrobatic finish is ruled out after a foul on San Marino keeper Simoncini.
POST! It's Balotelli this time and his low drive come back off the woodwork.
Yellow Card Alessandro Della Valle
Well this is definitely a free kick. Aquilani is upended by Della Valle and the centre-back is shown a yellow card. Another chance for Pirlo to weave his magic right boot perhaps?
Balotelli takes a tumble in the San Marino area. It's a tad theatrical and given the visitors' current plight, the referee rightfully waves play on.
This half looks like being a lot tougher on the minnows. They're already starting to show signs of tiredness. How long can they hold it together for?
Alessio Cerci glides past the San Marino left-back and tip-toes his way along the bye-line. His cut-back can't pick out either Sau or Balotelli though and the visitors clear their lines once more.
Another delicious pass from Pirlo finds the run of Maggio but the fullback is given offside before his cutback can reach Marco Sau. Italy are definitely threatening another couple of goals here.
The early goal in this half has certainly created a bit of a party atmosphere. Flags are waving and the crowd has finally found its voice.
To make matters worse for San Marino, Mario Balotelli is now on the field of play. This could be a long second forty-five for the visitors' back four.
Goal Andrea Pirlo
GOOOAAALLLL!!! PIRLO WITH A PEACH OF A FREE KICK!!! I don't care who you are, no goalkeeper is stopping that! The long stoppage for subs gives the Juventus man plenty of time to line up his effort. When he does eventually strike it, it curls right into the top corner. Postage stamp.
Diamanti is pole-axed on the edge of the area by Vitaioli and Italy have a free kick in a promising possession. First up though, three Italy subs.
Gigi Buffon is called into action! For the first time in the match the Juve keeper has to be alert, coming off his line to punch clear a deep free kick.
Italy get the second half up and running. No subs at the break and both sides are as you are.
It doesn't look like Italy are going to match England's scoreline at this rate. But the second half is about to get underway, let's see what kind of total the hosts can rack up.
Who was your top performer in the first half? As ever, I want to hear from you. Get in touch with your opinions and predictions by using the chat box in the match centre or, alternatively, you can tweet me directly, just mention @harryslavin.
The star of the match so far has been San Marino's Aldo Junior Simoncini. The goalkeeper has pulled of some impressive stops and has kept the score respectable this far. Can his teammates up the other end provide any sort of reward in the form of a goal? I wouldn't bet on it.
HALF-TIME: ITALY 2-0 SAN MARINO. The visitors make nothing of the free kick as Ranocchia rises highest to clear. That brings a routine first half to a close with the Azzurri comfortably in control at the break. It's been nothing more than a training match for them as they constantly lay siege to the San Marino goal.
45' + 1'
Into the final minute of the half and San Marino have a free kick in an advanced position. Surely they can't score against the might of Italy?
Mattia De Sciglio
Antonelli won't continue after the knock he took in the penalty area. Hopefully the substitution is only precautionary. Milan's De Sciglio is on in any case.
Diamanti seems intent on providing the spectacular tonight. He takes aim from the edge of the area once more but again sees his effort fly over the San Marino bar.
Antonelli finds himself played through as he latches onto Bonaventura's measured through ball. He slams his effort into the side netting though and takes a knock for his troubles.
five minutes until the break and this game has gone exactly to script so far. Italy have piled on the pressure and created numerous chances. They've only taken two so far. Are there anymore to be had before the break?
Diamanti wriggles past a couple of tackles and tries to drill a shot from the edge of the area. The sting is taken out the effort though by a couple of deflections and Simoncini gathers easily.
Aquilani is completely free at the back post for the third time this evening. This time Pirlo's cross is a touch to high for the Fiorentina man to reach. Italy relentless now.
This is more like what Italians will have come to expect from tonight. They've taken a while to get going but those goals have certainly settled the home side.
Goal Alberto Gilardino
GOOOAAAALLLL!!!! GILARDINO FINALLY NETS!!! This goal is made and finished by Gilardino. The Bologna man takes Poli's pass and flicks a lovely pass round the corner for Aquilani to run onto. Aquilani's initial effort is blocked by Simoncini but Gilardino follows up and hammers the ball into an empty net.
Andrea Pirlo tries his luck now. The veteran is allowed to dance his way from the edge of the area into the six-yard box with some tidy footwork. However the Juve man's effort is weak as he tried to spoon the ball out from under his feet and Simoncini beats the ball away.
San Marino's defence has finally caved. Will we see the floodgates open now?
Goal Andrea Poli
GOOOAAALLL!!!! ANDREA POLI WITH THE OPENER!!! That is cruel on the visitors but it has been coming. Diamanti's pass on the edge of the are is intercepted but the stray ball is pounced upon by Poli who takes one touch before smashing low past Simoncini.
It has been a frantic defensive display from San Marino. They are putting their bodies on the line here to keep this clean sheet.
Gilardino denied again! What does this man have to do to score? This time he gets on the end of Maggio's fine centre with a volley. Simoncini is down once more to save smartly and then goes in bravely to smother Bonaventura's follow up.
That was poor positioning from the Bologna man who had no need to be that far offside. He looks desperate to get on the scoresheet and his excitement got the better of him there.
Another tidy finish from Italy but another flag curtails the celebrations. A quick free kick releases Diamanti and his low cross is tucked home by Gilardino. The striker is a good two or three yards offside though.
A backheeled pass goes astray as the Azzurri look for alternative ways do break down the San Marino defence. They're still having the vast majority of possession but the scoreline doesn't suggest that just yet.
They've been banging on the door, but so far San Marino, and in particular Simoncini, are doing their best to frustrate their more illustrious opponents.
Italy have the ball in the net but it's not going to count. Christian Maggio finds himself in an advanced position and sticks out a leg to divert the ball over Simoncini and under the crossbar. The effort is rightly ruled out for offside though.
What a save from Simoncini! Pirlo's cross flies over everyone and falls kindly to Alberto Aquilani who is barely six-yards out when he strikes goalwards. Simoncini blocks the point blank effort with a brave stop and keeps his side on level terms.
Former West Ham Diamanti fires another effort, this time from a free kick, miles over the bar. Wasteful from the hosts so far.
San Marino have survived the first ten minutes or so but they've struggled to get out of their own half, as you would expect. Andrea Pirlo blasts over from an ambitious distance but still no real trouble for Simocini.
Atalanta winger Giacomo Bonaventura is making his debut this evening and so far he's seen a lot of the ball on the left-hand side. He's looking fairly bright, causing plenty of problems with his quick feet.
Another corner for the Azzurri and again Pirlo tries to pick out Gilardino's run at the front post. It's a lower delivery but once again Italy's front man cannot get a telling touch on the ball.
Just I say that the Bologna man is in! He tries to round Simoncini in the San Marino goal but his touch just gets away from him and the ball dribbles behind for a goal kick.
Alberto Gilardino will be use to tonight's surroundings having spent the season on loan at Bologna from Genoa. I'm sure he'll be in the hunt for goals this evening.
Italy are already putting on the pressure and force an early corner. Gilardino rises at the front post but can't quite meet the cross.
San Marino get us underway on a dry evening in Bologna. England put eight past them in March. Italy may be hoping for omething similar.
SAN MARINO: (4-5-1) Simocini; Rinaldi, Simoncini, Della Valle, Vitaioli; Vitaioli, Coppini, Bollini, Cervellini, Gasperoni, Selva.
Hold your horses. The two captains are reading out messages to the crowd. Let's quickly give you the San MArino team while that's going on.
The sides are out, the anthems have been sung, it's time to get down to business.
The Azzurri's starting line up is virtually unrecognisable compared to the stars we usually expect to see turning out for the four-times world champions. However they've got more than enough quality in their starting XI to provide the smattering of goals this crowd in Bologna expect.
ITALY: (4-3-3) Buffon; Maggio, Ranocchia, Ogbonna, Antonelli; Poli, Pirlo, Aquilani; Diamanti, Gilardino, Bonaventura.
We aren't far from kick off so let's get some team news ahead of the whistle.
Yes the Azzurri are taking on the minnows of San Marino, a Republic that sits in the heart of Italy. It would be a huge kick to the heart of Italian football if San Marino can pull off any sort of shock tonight.
June looks to be a pretty important month for Cesare Prandelli and his men, with a crucial World Cup Qualifier against the Czech Republic and the Confederations Cup to negotiate. So what better way to prepare for a tough month than pitting their wits against the might of, err... San Marino!?
Good evening and welcome to Goal's coverage of Italy's friendly with San Marino from Bologna's Stadio Renato Dall'Ara. I'm Harry Slavin and I'm here to take you through tonight's action. Let's get the ball rolling.
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