Facing a match-fixing scandal that could threaten the team’s involvement in Euro 2012, the Italian national team took on Russia in a friendly in Switzerland.
The Azurri fell flat in their performance, failing to put together any truly threatening chances.
The game was fast-paced and both teams had their chances, but the Russians did better with theirs. A brilliant combination of passes led to a rocket shot in the 60th from Alexander Kerzhakov that ended up in the left corner of the net.
The Italians did no service to themselves in the 75th minute, as sloppy play at the back led to a loss of possession deep in their own half, and Roman Shirokov made them pay. Shirokov punished poor defending again in the 87th minute to put a bow on the victory.
The Italian side did nothing to lift their country’s spirits amidst a massive scandal, and it may be a rough summer for fans of the Azurri.
Tweets of the Night
Goal.com in India was appalled at the defending on the second goal of the match, and I'm sure all of Italy was as well.
Andrew Simpson, a journalist for the Guardian, was shocked at the result, as was the rest of the football world.
Pavel Gognidze, a writer for UEFA.com in Russia, was very pleased with the first half. I imagine he was jumping for joy in the second half.
Richard van P, another UEFA.com reporter, was quick to see how the common folk could benefit from some brilliant performances from the Russians.
Their first goal was the best from the Russians. Brilliant passing. Clinical finish. Beautiful soccer.
Grades for Key Italian Players
Mario Balotelli: C+
Balotelli played fairly well, but failed to convert any chances. Had the Italians not given up a goal early in the second half, his confidence may have continued to build and he just might have put one in the back of the net.
But that didn’t happen, and the immature striker could be seen sulking with slumped shoulders in the final minutes as the Italians gave up.
Gianluigi Buffon: B+
Buffon, despite legal troubles surrounding him, played well in the first half.
If he ends up being unavailable because of the controversy, Italy might be in trouble as his replacement, Morgan De Sanctis, did not perform well at all.
Andrea Pirlo: B
The midfield maestro played consistently, as he always does. He was able to set up some of the Italians' more penetrating attacks, but like the rest of the team, he was unable to really threaten the Russians.
He came off in the 69 th minute and was spared any blame for the final two goals, which were both fairly ugly.
Grades for Key Russian Players
Roman Shirokov: A+
Shirokov played the poacher role to perfection in this match. The Italians got very lazy during the final minutes of the match, and he made sure that did not go unpunished.
He also assisted the Russians' first goal. After having a hand in all three scores, he deserves the highest grade possible.
Andre Arshavin: B
The crafty winger was not spectacular in the match, but he was still able help the Russians keep pressure on the Italians.
He was only able to get one shot off, but still, his creativity was a beneficial asset for his side.
Yuri Zhirkov: B+
Zhirkov was able to contribute both in attack and on defense. The Russians were able create pressure on the wings, and he had a part in that.
The Italian attack seemed to fade as the match went on, and that is a testament to the resolve of Zhirkov and the Russian defense.
Man of the Match: Roman Shirokov
The Zenit Petersburg man was brilliant on the night.
The 30-yeard-old showed poise, confidence and veteran savvy by refusing to let the Italians get away with their mistakes.
Any time a player notches two goals and an assist, he is guaranteed to be the best player on the field.
Both teams will play in the Euro 2012 tournament.
The Italians will face defending champions Spain on June 10 at 11 a.m. ET at PGE Arena.
The Russians will take on the Czech Republic at 1:45 p.m. ET at Stadion Miejski.