Italy on track for Euro 2012

Germany and Italy move closer to European qualification as France stall against Belarus.

    The match comes three days after the latest match-fixing scandal to rock the country resulting in 16 arrests throughout Italy [AFP]

    Italy are on the brink of qualifying for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine after a convincing 3-0 win over Estonia in Modena on Friday.

    Forwards Giuseppe Rossi, Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini scored one goal each in an easy victory for the Azzurri.

    Italy sit five points clear of Slovenia in Group C and need to win only two of their last four matches to guarantee progress to the finals.

    Germany also moved a step closer to the European Championships while France's progress in qualifying was stalled by dropping more points against Belarus.

    France still remain at the top of Group D despite a four-match winning run ending in a 1-1 draw.

    Early attack

    Fixtures & Results

    Friday June 3

     
    Kazakhstan 2-1 Azerbaijan
     Austria 1-2 Germany
     Belgium 1-1 Turkey
     Faroe Islands 0-2 Slovenia
     Italy 3-0 Estonia
     Romania 3-0 Bos-Herze
     Belarus 1-1 France
     Moldova 1-4 Sweden
     San Marino 0-1 Finland
     Croatia 2-1 Georgia
     Liechtenstein 2-0 Lithuania

    Saturday June 4

     
    Russia v Armenia
     Slovakia v Andorra
     Macedonia v R of Ireland
     Latvia v Israel
     Greece v Malta
     England v Switzerland
     Montenegro v Bulgaria
     Iceland v Denmark
     Portugal v Norway

    Alberto Aquilani directed Cassano and Rossi in Italy's 4-3-1-2 formation, while Estonia responded with a traditional 4-4-2 spearheaded by Tarmo Kink and Sergei Zenjov.

    Italy immediately took control but Cassano wasted two early opportunities, shooting directly at the goalkeeper in both the seventh and 13th minutes - with the second coming from an excellent set up by Rossi, who then nearly scored with a header from the ensuing corner in the 14th.

    Five minutes later, Rossi collected an excellent through ball but had his shot blocked by Estonia goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko.

    Shortly after Rossi's goal, Aquilani walked off with a head injury and was replaced by Palermo's Antonio Nocerino, prompting Prandelli to move Montolivo into the playmaker position.

    Kink had a rare shot on goal for Estonia in the 20th but it was controlled easily by Buffon.

    Rossi's shot off the post came in the 30th, while Pirlo found the goalframe from a free kick in the 66th.

    Cassano and Rossi both exited to standing ovations when they were substituted during the second half.

    In Vienna Mario Gomez kept up Germany's perfect record in Group A with a first-half goal and a late winner in a 2-1 victory over Austria.

    France draw

    Florent Malouda scored an equaliser to earn France a 1-1 draw in Minsk.

    An own goal from France defender Eric Abidal gave Belarus a deserved lead in the 20th minute, but Malouda finished neatly two minutes later after being set up by Karim Benzema in France's first attack of the match.

    "It was a disappointing match, especially in the first half when we didn't start the match the right way,'' France coach Laurent Blanc said.

    "We did everything in this match, we (even) scored the two goals. The first in our own goal did us some good because it woke us up.'' 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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