Italy beats Northern Ireland 3-0
Antonio Cassano scored twice and Italy defeated Northern Ireland
3-0 Tuesday to conclude its European Championship qualifying
Cassano put Italy ahead in the eighth minute with a splendid
volley following a long pass from Daniele De Rossi, then doubled
the lead with a well-placed low shot from the edge of the area in
Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley then scored an own goal
in the 74th by redirecting a pass from Federico Balzaretti.
Italy, which had already qualified for next year’s tournament,
finished with 26 points atop Group C.
Northern Ireland, which was already eliminated, finished next to
last in the group with nine points.
”Now we’ve got the Euros and we’ve just got to continue like
this,” said Cassano, who has nine goals for Italy.
Cassano had to apologize after insulting an Italian journalist
during midweek training, and he has been on and off the national
squad for years due to behavior problems.
”I’m stressed out. I would like to have a good European
Championship and a good World Cup and then retire,” the
29-year-old AC Milan forward said. ”It’s 13 years now that
whatever I say doesn’t go over well. So at 33 I’m going to be
finished with football and enjoy my family.”
Nigel Worthington announced on Monday that this would be his
final match as Northern Ireland coach, thus ending his 4 1/2-year
stint with the national team.
Before kickoff, Italy honored its four players with more than
100 caps: current goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was making his
110th appearance; retired goalkeeper Dino Zoff (112), former
defender Paolo Maldini (126) and record-holder Fabio Cannavaro
Italy will next face Euro 2012 co-host Poland and Copa America
champion Uruguay in friendlies Nov. 11 and 15, while Northern
Ireland isn’t slated to play again until February, giving the Irish
FA plenty of time to find a replacement for Worthington.
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon (Morgan De Sanctis, 77), Giorgio
Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Cassano (Pablo Osvaldo, 56),
Federico Balzaretti, Alberto Aquilani (Antonio Nocerino, 69),
Andrea Barzagli, Mattia Cassani, Riccardo Montolivo, Sebastian
Giovinco, Andrea Pirlo.
Northern Ireland: Maik Taylor, Lee Hodson, Ryan McGivern, Gareth
McAueley, Oliver Norwood (Connor McLaughlin, 74), Chris Baird,
Andrew Little, Steven Davis, David Healy (Warren Feeney, 65), Corry
Evans, Jonny Gorman (Niall McGinn, 77).