Antonio Cassano scored the only goal for Italy tonight at the Faroe Islands as
they moved a step closer to qualifying for the 2012 European Championships.
Cassano struck in the 11th minute in Torshavn as the Azzurri remained unbeaten
in Group C.
The hosts were unlucky not to equalise in the 71st minute when Christian
Holst's effort rebounded off the crossbar with Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon
The result has placed Cesare Prandelli's Italy eight points clear of nearest
rivals Slovenia in the pool with three games remaining.
Slovenia lost 2-1 at home to Estonia and will travel to Florence on Tuesday to
take on Italy.
Prandelli had called on his players to focus ahead of this game, with most of
them lacking match practice, and his cause for concern was evident with Italy
failing to produce much excitement
The Serie A start was postponed last weekend due to the failure of the players
and Lega Serie A to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
Prandelli fielded Giuseppe Rossi and Cassano in attack and his selection paid
Italy were first to threaten in the sixth minute, when Riccardo Montolivo set
up Cassano inside the area and the AC Milan striker's right-footed shot went
Italy continued to press forward and went in front soon afterwards. Andrea
Pirlo found Cassano inside the six-yard box and he fired past Faroe Islands
goalkeeper Rene Torgard.
The hosts' first attempt saw Joan Edmundsson's right-footed strike deflected
away by a defender.
But they almost pulled level in the 24th minute with Suni Olsen's 30-yard
effort hitting the post.
In the 34th minute, Daniele De Rossi's powerful strike from 30 yards was
punched away by Torgard.
Shortly after, Rossi wasted a good chance with his effort going wide.
Italy almost doubled their lead before the break but Domenico Criscito's
left-footed strike from the edge of the area was saved by Torgard.
Prandelli made his first substitution on the hour mark, with Pazzini replacing
The Inter Milan forward almost made an immediate impact but his header from
Christian Maggio's cross was easy for Edmundsson to gather.
The hosts were unlucky again not to equalise when a fast counter-attack saw
Hjalgrim Elttor feed Holst in the heart of the area and his right-footed shot
struck the crossbar.
Shortly after, Pol Johannes Justinussen's header was saved by Buffon.
With five minutes remaining, Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli replaced
Cassano and his strike from the edge of the area was cleared by a defender.
Italy held on for three vital points.