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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

US Soccer downs Italy for first time ever

GENOA, Italy — Clint Dempsey scored a second-half winner as Italy crashed to a 1-0 defeat against the United States at Genoa’s Luigi Ferraris stadium Wednesday.

The forward helped the squad led by German Juergen Klinsmann clinch its first-ever win against the Azzurri.

Cesare Prandelli’s squad was weakened upfront as the coach missed the injured Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi, and left Mario Balotelli at home for disciplinary reasons.

His largely experimental team lacked the speed necessary to get the better of the solid guests, which led to a fourth defeat from Prandelli’s 19 games at the Azzurri’s helm.

All the defeats were suffered in friendlies, while the coach is unbeaten in competitive games.

With Sebastian Giovinco and Alessandro Matri upfront, the Azzurri did well in the early minutes, when Tim Howard blocked with his foot a dangerous deflection from Thiago Motta and was well positioned on a drive that Sebastian Giovinco fired from too tight an angle to trouble the goalkeeper.

Defender Domenico Criscito tried a long-range effort before the guests had their first chance on 37 minutes from a smashing but central free kick from Clint Dempsey that met Gianluigi Buffon’s knuckles.

An easy save from Howard as Thiago Motta fired again from outside the box closed a rather dull first half.

The U.S. team relied on its trademark physical fitness, but also displayed technical qualities on 55 minutes, when Jozy Altidore controlled a cross from the left and adjusted the ball for Dempsey’s low shot on Buffon’s right.

Matri left the pitch as Prandelli switched to a three-pronged attack with the debutant Fabio Borini and Giampaolo Pazzini next to Giovinco.

Borini, a 20-year-old from Rome who was promoted from the Azzurri’s youth team, fired centrally on 67 minutes off a Pazzini feed and only managed a weak deflection on a taut cross from the right, as Italy stepped up tempo in the last 15 minutes.

“We did not deserve to lose. I liked my team,” Prandelli said. “They have the right spirit to overcome difficulties. I think we can play a great European championship.

“We were more incisive in the second half when we increased our pace. Unfortunately, we had the wrong timing and often ended in off-side. I am absolutely not worried about Euro 2012.”

The Azzurri, who won a single continental title in 1968, are grouped with holders Spain, Croatia and Ireland in the first phase of the tournament hosted by Poland and Ukraine from June 8 to July 1.

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