Clint Dempsey netted a second-half winner as the United States scored a huge road win in Genoa.
The victory is the fourth straight for Jurgen Klinsmann's side and undoubtedly the biggest during the German's time as head coach. It also marks the first-ever victory for the U.S. over Italy, improving its record to 1-7-3.
"It’s important to come to places like this and play big teams on their own soil and get results," Dempsey said. "At times it wasn’t pretty but we grounded out the result tonight.”
The first half was a cagey affair, with both teams seeing a fair amount of the ball. The Italians attempted to breach the U.S. defense with long balls over the top, while the U.S. attempted to attack from the flanks, utilizing the space Italy conceded out wide.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was called into action early, making a big save on Thiago Motta from close range just five minutes in.
The U.S. struck back with some nice passing moves, and Brek Shea will feel he should have done better on 10 minutes after dragging a shot wide from the top of the box.
The Italians attempted to exploit the U.S. defense by launching balls over the top, and almost found success in the 19th minute when Sebastian Giovinco's close shot was held by Howard.
Ten minutes from halftime, Jozy Altidore won a free kick in a dangerous spot. Dempsey stepped up and hit it well, but it was right at Buffon, who punched clear.
Italy continued to break through the U.S. back line at the beginning of the second half, but found itself just offside on three occasions straight away.
Against the run of play, the U.S. found the breakthrough in the 55th minute. Fabian Johnson curled in a cross from the left flank and Altidore took it down and laid off well for Dempsey, who fired low and across his body in the far corner, giving Gigi Buffon no shot.
“It was a good ball in. It was chipped to [Altidore]," Dempsey said. "Initially I was going to stay where I was but I saw the guy who was covering him had moved, so I moved to my right to try to get open so he could play me the ball. He did a great job of holding it up, playing me, so I tried to hit it low and hard at the far post and it went in.”
Italy struck back and substitute Fabio Borini had a shot at the top of the box a few minutes later, but it was straight into the grateful arms of Howard.
With just 13 minutes to play, Italy had two great chances to equalize. First, Carlos Bocanegra cut out a cross from Abate that went just over the net for a corner kick, then Jonathan Spector made a huge block to deny Borini off the ensuing corner.
The home side increasingly attacked during a frantic final 10 minutes, with the U.S. dropping back in a defensive shell. Spector, Bocanegra and Clarence Goodson all provided huge defensive efforts in the dying moments to secure the win for the U.S.
“It’s just a confidence builder," Dempsey said. "We’re just trying to move in the right direction and trying to get as sharp as we can for the summer and the World Cup qualifying games because the goal is to qualify for the World Cup."
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