Defending champions Italy crash out of World Cup
Defending champions Italy suffered a shock 2-3 defeat at the hands of Slovakia to crash out of the FIFA World Cup with Robert Vittek scoring twice in a drama-filled match to send his side to the round of 16 as Group F runners-up in Johannesburg on Thursday.
After a listless first half show, four-time champions Italy raised visions of a remarkable fightback after 0-2 down but eventually failed to stay further in the tournament.
It is the first time in the World Cup that the two previous finalists, Italy and France, both went out in the group stage.
Image: Italy's Fabio Cannavaro (C) shakes hands with Slovakia's Miroslav Stoch (L), as Fabio Quagliarella reacts after their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match at Ellis Park stadium
Vittek scored twice for Slovakia
Robert Vittek scored twice in the 25th and 73rd minutes.
The Slovakians had more ball possession in the opening session which did have only a few scoring chances from both sides though the game was fast-paced.
But Slovakia's first goal came out of nowhere.
Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi gave the ball away and Marek Hamsik slips a little pass in for Robert Vittek on the edge of the Italian box, the striker sliding a shot into the left side of the net past a diving keeper Federico Marchetti.
Vittek then scored his second goal in the 73rd minute by slamming home off a Marek Hamsik pass from a move started from a corner kick.
Image: Slovakia's Robert Vittek celebrates his goal
Di Natale pulled one back for Italy
Italy were clearly the better side in the second session and they wasted least two clear chances early after resumption.
Five minutes into the second session, Simone Pepe curled in a cross from the right and Vincenzo Iaquinta beat his marker but his glancing header went wide of the far post.
In the 56th minute, Antonio Di Natale had a great chance on the right of the area but he shot wide with the Slovakian keeper advancing.
In the 67th minute, a Pepe curling cross from the right beat the keeper but Quagliarella's volley from the left edge of the penalty box was saved on the goal-line by Skrtel.
However down 0-2, Marcello Lippi's boys were yet to throw in the towel and they pulled one back in the 81st minute through Di Natale.
Image: Italy's Antonio Di Natale shoots to score their first goal during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match
One Quagliarella goal was disallowed, the other allowed
Four minutes later, Quagliarella's goal was ruled off-side to the dismay of the vociferous Italian supporters.
Italy reduced the margin to make it 2-3 during the five-minute injury time. Quagliarella finally scored in the second minute of the injury time.
The ball came to him on the edge of the Slovakia box and he sent a glorious chip over keeper Jan Mucha and into the Slovakian net but that was too late for his side to be saved from a disastrous exit.
Image: Italy's Fabio Quagliarella (R) celebrates his goal which was later disallowed for offside during the 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match against Slovakia at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg
There was some scuffle as well
Referee Howard Webb also came into action when Italy's Quagliarella and Slovakia's goalkeeper Mucha were involved in a scuffle following Italy's second goal.
Italy became the second soccer powerhouse and former champions to crash out of the group stage of this tournament
Ironically, the Azzurris emulated France of 2002 World Cup in becoming the defending champions to crash out in the
Image: Referee Howard Webb Italy's Quagliarella and Slovakia's goalkeeper Mucha during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match
Kopunek's goal ended Italy's hopes
Kamil Kopunek hit the third for Slovakia in the 89th minute.
Slovakia took a quick, sharp throw from the right and Italy were just not quick enough to react.
Kopunek latched on to the ball and with keeper Federico Marchetti slow to leave his line, the Slovakian coolly lifted the ball over him and into the net.
The goal snuffed out Italy's dreams of staying in the World Cup.
Image: Slovakia's Kamil Kopunek shoots to score past Italy's goalkeeper Federico Marchetti during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg