Egypt-Italy: Failed Second Half Chances Burn Azzurri In Johannesburg

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJune 18, 2009

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 18:  Vincenzo Iaquinta #15 of Italy reacts after his shot on goal was blocked  by goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary of Egypt during the FIFA Confederations Cup, between Italy and Egypt at Ellis Park Stadium on June 18, 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Italy was defeated by Egypt, 1-0.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

For everything that went right for Italy against the United States on Monday in Tshwane, Thursday night in Johannesburg against Egypt was the complete opposite and the result shows it.

Poor defense after a solid start was capped off when Daniele De Rossi rose above and whiffied on an Eqyptian corner and Mohomad Homos headed in the golden opportunity off the post for the lone goal of the game.

The post was left completely wide open and if there was somebody there, the header certainly wouldn't have gone in. Gianluigi Buffon, who had made a superb save just seconds before that resulted in the corner, had no chance.

Ladies and gentleman, we always have somebody marking the post.

It certainly was a goal that was felt to be coming. As the first half went on, Egypt established themselves as the better side on the night and it showed. They dominated the midfield and while they didn't put many chances on net, they showed they could hang with the world champions.

There was no Giuseppe Rossi magic like there was against the Americans. His spark was gone midway through the first half.

In the second half there was more life in the Azzurri as they actually mounted serious attacks on a consistent basis.

Italy boss Marcelo Lippi introduced Riccardo Montolivo for Rino Gattuso, who obviously still 100 percent ready for international football, and the 24-year-old midfielder gave his side a spark, giving the Italians some much needed creativity in position that desperately needed it.

But the man who came on at the same time, Luca Toni, didn't do much of anything, missing a cross from another substitute, Simone Pepe that he could've buried at the near post. And other than that, he was absent.

There were chances, but the Azzurri never capitalized.

Vincenzo Iaquinta, who was so incredibly on fire to finish the season for Juventus, couldn't put away two golden chances to score in the second half, including one that came just 10 minutes into the second half, forcing a great save out of Egyptian keeper Essam El Hadary.

It wouldn't be the last time El Hadary's name came about as against one of the biggest opponents in international football, the 36-year-old keeper played the game of his life.

Montolivo blasted one but it was right on target, forcing  El Hadary to make another one of his numerous fantastic saves. It may have been right at hime and he didn't handle the shot, but the Egyptian No. 1 did his job and no danger was a result of it.

Yet that wasn't the end of the Italian frustration.

Iaquinta again had a golden chance to score, this time from basically point-blank range, but El Hadary reached back with one hand and stopped the ball just inches in front of the goal line.

It summed up Italy's night. Even a poorly hit, floater of a cross, by Iaquinta that had El Hadary fooled hit the crossbar and from then on you knew the shutout was going to happen.

What Egypt lacked in pure physical ability they made up for it in heart and determination. All you can do is tip your cap to that.

Now as Italy are tied with the team who just beat them, they enter Sunday's encounter with Brazil having to win, which isn't exactly the team you want to be matched up against.

It might be the time that Lippi ditches his 4-3-3 formation in favor of something that gives his team some more presence in the midfield, something that was definitely lacking against both United States until there was a man advantage and Egypt.

Many were hoping Rossi could provide the spark he did against the United States for a full 90 minutes, but that didn't happen. It's not like former years where Lippi can look down his bench and see some of Serie A's brightest stars.

We don't know if Lippi will tinker with the starting squad, but we, along with the boss, know he has to come out of it with a win.


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