World Cup: Italy and Ghana Into Last 16 (C)

Italy and Ghana went into their final group games today knowing that by avoiding defeat they’d be safely through to the second round, and that’s exactly what happened. A late Saudi Arabia red card and a trio of Italian goals in Sochi saw Italy top Group C, while Ghana and Wales shared four goals in the first half for an entertaining draw.

Two changes for Ghana from the draw against Italy, with Jordan Ayew and Nana Asare in the starting XI while Jordan’s older brother André made his 100th appearance for the side. Just the one change for Wales from their win over Saudi Arabia as Joe Ledley replaced Hal Robson-Kanu.

Chesterfield’s 21-year old striker Owen Drake® fired Wales ahead in the 7th minute, when he got on the end of Aaron Ramsey’s flighted free-kick into the box. With time to bring the ball down and set himself, Drake fired home from close range for one-nil.

The lead lasted just four minutes until Kamal Isaah got on the end of Asante’s ball across the six-yard after a run down the right. Isaah scoring his first senior goal for his country, out-muscling Adam Matthews in the chase to get to the cross first. A third goal came before the quarter-hour mark as Drake sent Collison’s cross past Larsen Kwarasey.

A fiesty period followed with the Slovakian referee showing four yellow cards in a twelve minute period, before Jordan Ayew fired home an equaliser. A drop of the shoulder was enough to evade the attentions of Ashley Williams, and Ayew got on the end of Cofie’s through-ball before slotting past Hennessey.

Ghana were happy with the draw which puts them into the second round. They’ll play the winners of Group D at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (3)
                        GHANA 2-2 WALES
                     Isaah 11     Drake 7, 14
                    J.Ayew 36

                       Mensah     Drake
                                  Ramsey
                                  Turner
                                  Williams


Just one change for Italy as they looked to win the group in Moscow today: Giuseppe Rossi started up-top replacing Gianluca Capriari. Saudi Arabia also made a single change hoping to avoid a third defeat in three games: Hadi Saleh came in for Majid Al-Ibidan.

Fernando Forestieri scored his third goal of the tournament inside ten minutes to put Italy in front. Claudio Marchisio did all the hard work down the left, giving Ali Barnawi a torrid time before crossing where the Juventus midfielder met it at the far post with a superb diving head for 1-0.

Saudi Arabia were back on level terms in the 38th minute when Astori headed away an Al-Dosari corner, but only as far as Al-Mutairi who found Al-Dosari still out wide. The ball was fired into the six-yard box where Saleh Al-Enazi beat his marker to the ball and slammed home past Singu.

Muhand Autef picked-up a booking ten minutes after half-time and on the hour Italy went back in front. Nocerino intercepted in the centre circle and played it forward to Giuseppe Rossi. With options ahead of him, he turned Ali Barnawi – on a yellow – inside out before lashing a low shot home off the post.

With three minutes left, Autef was shown the fifth red card of the tournament when he earned a second yellow after bundling over Marchisio as Italy broke on a swift counter-attack, and Italy made the numerical advantage count shortly after as Alessandro Florenzi was free to head home Giovinco’s corner for 3-1.

Three points wins the group for Italy. They’ll play the Group D runners-up in Volgograd.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (3)
                 SAUDI ARABIA 1-3 ITALY
                  Al-Enazi 38     Forestieri 10
               Autef s/off 87     Rossi 61
                                  Florenzi 90

                      Barnawi
                        Autef

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World Cup Group C: Matchday Two Review

After 22 matches at the World Cup we still don’t have a team mathematically confirmed in the last sixteen, though we have lost a second side in Saudi Arabia who now cannot make the knockout stages after defeat by Wales today in Samara. Top two Italy and Ghana drew 2-2.

Two changes for Wales with Adam Matthews and Hal Robson-Kanu replacing Gareth Owen and Joe Ledly faced an unchanged Saudi Arabian side, and it was the former who opened the scoring with half-hour played. In a game of few chances, Hal Robson-Kanu got on the end of a Gareth Bale cross to volley home from close range.

Within ten minutes, Wales had doubled their lead. Jack Collison fed the ball to Bale who jinked his way out wide, leaving the Saudi midfield in his wake. Bale crossed low from the left and Collison met it first-time around the penalty spot to drill Wales two-up.

A pair of late yellow cards for Saudi Arabia raised the tension as they pushed hard to get something out of the game, but Wales held on and now know that a win against Ghana on Wednesday will see them make the last sixteen.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (2)
                 SAUDI ARABIA 0-2 WALES
                                  Robson-Kanu 30
                                  Collison 39
                 
                    Al-Dosari     Taylor
                        Autef


Italy were stunned by a double body-blow right at the end of the first-half as Ghana stormed into a two-nil lead at the break at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, but fought back in a match they otherwise dominated to rescue a point and stay top of Group C.

The 2014 runners-up had a vast amount of shots, but wayward finishing was almost their downfall as Ghana went ahead through Waris Majeed nineteen seconds into first-half stoppage time. Somehow he got ahead of three Italian defenders to poke home André Ayew’s cross at the near post.

112 seconds later it was two-nil when Ayew’s through-ball to Majeed beat the offside trap and the Pescara striker outpaced Bonucci before bending a low drive around Sirigu with 47:07 showing on the clock.

Italy came out swinging after the break and had a goal back just 41 seconds from the restart through Gianluca Caprari. The Arsenal man collected Faraoni’s ball down the right-hand side of the box before cutting in and firing past Larsen. Provider turned scorer midway through the second-half when Marco Faraoni intercepted a wayward Ayew pass, brought the ball forward 30 yards then bent a low shot home for an equaliser and his first international goal.

Florenzi and Marchisio both hit the bar within four minutes of each other, but a third goal wasn’t coming for the Italians. They stay top of Group C on goal difference, and avoiding defeat against Saudi Arabia will see them safely through to the knockout stages.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (2)
                        ITALY 2-2 GHANA
                   Caprari 46     Majeed 45+1, 45+3
                   Faraoni 63
                    
                     Nocerino     Boateng
                                  Ayew

World Cup, Day Three: Ghana 2-1 S.Arabia (C)

English referee Tom Singleton stole the limelight in tonight’s Group C match when he pointed to the penalty spot twice for Saudi Arabia in the final five minutes, but Ghana held their nerve and ran out 2-1 winners in a fiesty affair in St. Petersburg.

Saudi Arabia had the better of the opening exchanges, hitting the underside of the crossbar after eighteen minutes when Abdullah Alhafith’s downward header at a corner bounced up off the turf and hit the woodwork before being spooned over the top during the following scramble.

Five minutes later, Saudi Arabia had another gilt-edged chance when centre-back Abdulellah Majraski found himself in the final third and was put clean-through by Majed Al-Dosari, but his fierce drive flashed inches wide.

Ten minutes before the break, Ghana took the lead against the run of play. Samuel Inkoom’s switched the ball from the right to the opposite flank where Waris Majeed had escaped the attention of the Saudi defence. He had time to come inside and drill a low shot home from the edge of the box.

The goal lifted Ghana and they had the lion’s share of possession and chances for the next half-hour. In the 66th minute Kojo Asamoah headed a corner against the bar and Isaac Vorsah missed a golden opportunity to make it two-nil when he screwed an effort wide in the scramble.

On 71 minutes, they found a second. David Addy chipped a long ball forwards to the penalty arc for Uriah Asante who took a touch to bring the ball down before smashing a shot into the top right past Hussein Minae.

In the final five minutes, controversy struck. Hattan Autef was adjudged to have cleanly won the ball and with the Ghana defence expecting a foul he played it into Ipswich striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi who was clattered by Jonathan Mensah inside the box, and Singleton pointed to the spot.

Al-Sahlawi stepped-up to take it himself, sending it to Larsen’s left but the Ghanaian ‘keeper dived the same way and pushed it round the post with a fine save. The resulting corner was only half-cleared and as Al-Dosari went for a header, he was barged in the back by Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Singleton pointed to the spot a second time, and Bader Al-Mubarak drilled the penalty into the bottom right to pull a goal back for Saudi Arabia. The remaining four minutes and lengthy stoppage time saw sides exchange bookings, but Ghana held on for the win.

On Friday, Ghana face Italy while Saudi Arabia play Wales.


                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C
                        GHANA 2-1 SAUDI ARABIA
                    Majeed 36     Al-Mubarak 86 pen
                    Asante 71     (Al-Sahlawi m/pen 85)

                       Inkoom     Al-Dosari
                      Boateng     Al-Subiani

[YT HERE WHEN LIVE]

World Cup, Day Two: Wales 0-4 Italy (C)

Swansea defender Chris Mills set a record as the youngest player ever to appear at the World Cup when he came on as a second-half substitute for Wales, but there was little else to celebrate in Volgograd as Italy ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in today’s opening Group C match.

The first-half was a remarkably flat affair, with Italy in control but starting in their traditional slow fare. Neither ‘keeper was tested in the opening 45 minutes, with only Italy having efforts at goal, all three off-target from distance.

Five minutes after the break Bayern Munich’s Marco Faraoni hit the woodwork when he rose highest to meet a Sebastian Giovinco corner, his header coming down off the bar and along the line before hitting the far post and being cleared. The Italians appealed in vain to the officials but the GLT system disagreed and it remained goalless.

It didn’t take long for the 2014 finalists to make a breakthrough after that. Fernando Forestieri picked-up a Nocerino pass, beat Turner for pace and drilled a low shot past Wayne Hennessey from fifteen yards. Within quarter of an hour one had become three…

The second came when Alessandro Florenzi’s good work found Giovinco lurking outside the box. He clipped the ball into Giuseppe Rossi whose flicked header fell perfectly into the path of Florenzi who rounded Hennessey and slotted home. Florenzi then became provider as his shot caused a scramble in the box, with Forestieri stabbing home for his second and Italy’s third.

With 20 minutes remaining, Chris Mills made history when he replaced Gareth Owen. Aged just 16 years and 264 days he became the youngest ever player to appear at the World Cup Finals, beating Norman Whiteside’s record by 144 days which he set for Northern Ireland in Spain in 1992.

Inside the final ten minutes, Italy added a fourth. Faraoni crossed for Giuseppe Rossi whose shot was blocked by Williams, but the Welsh defence were unable to clear and the Villarreal striker poked it towards goal where Hennessey got a hand on it but couldn’t stop it squirming over the line. This time the GLT indicated goal and it was 4-0.

Mills was harshly adjudged to have fouled Florenzi the two tangled over a ball running out of play, and the Spanish referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Forestieri for his hat-trick, only for the Juventus midfielder to smash it against the post in the last minute.

It finished 4-0 and Italy enjoyed 61% possession over the 90 minutes, completely shut out the Welsh side who didn’t conjure a single effort at goal all game. Italy face Ghana in Moscow on Friday, with Wales meeting Saudi Arabia in Samara.


                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C
                        WALES 0-4 ITALY
                                  Forestieri 53, 69
                                  Florenzi 60
                                  Rossi 82
                                  (Forestieri m/pen 90)

World Cup Squads: Italy, Euro 2016 Champions

Italy were beaten in extra-time four years ago in Brazil by the hosts, but went on to lift the Euro 2016 trophy in France with a 2-0 win over Bosnia & Herzegovina. They head to the FIFA World Cup in Russia ranked 2nd in the world, despite needing a playoff win over Poland to qualify. Italy have been drawn in Group C with Wales, Ghana and Saudi Arabia and start their campaign kicks-off on Saturday 16th.

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP SQUAD: ITALY

 MANAGER: Robert Mancini
  RECORD: Played 25 Won 16 Drawn 5 Lost 4 For 56 Against 25

 GOALKEEPERS                    CLUB              CAPS   GOALS
  1. Salvatore Sirigu           Paris St.Germain   64      0
 14. Emiliano Viviano           AC Milan           15      0
 15. Andrea Consigli            Juventus            0      0

 DEFENDERS
  3. Giorgio Chiellini          Juventus          114      2
  4. Domenico Criscito          Zenit              76      0
  5. Marco Capuano              Manchester City     8      0
 13. David Astori               Juventus           63      1
 19. Leonardo Bonucci           Juventus           93      5
 21. Mattia De Sciglio          AC Milan           37      1
 23. Salvatore Bocchetti        Paris St.Germain   40      2

 MIDFIELDERS
  2. Marco Davide Faraoni       Bayern Munich       6      0
  6. Andrea Poli                Benfica            41      5
  7. Marco Verratti             Dortmund           25      4
  8. Claudio Marchisio ©        Juventus          104     23
 10. Sebastian Giovinco         Bayern Munich      88     25
 16. Fernando Forestieri        Juventus           47     13
 17. Alessandro Florenzi        Fiorentina         20      7
 18. Andrea Bertolacci          Roma                8      0
 20. Antonio Noccerino          AC Milan           47      3
 22. Giacomo Bonaventura        Pescara             5      0

 STRIKERS
  9. Giuseppe Rossi             Villarreal         72     17
 11. Fabio Borini               Liverpool          35     21
 12. Gianluca Caprari           Arsenal            20      7

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