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  Results & Reviews: Match 14


Everyone wins
Sweden strikes late to score 1-1 draw with Totti-less Italy

Italy is on the brink of early elimination from another tournament after Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 85th-minute equalizer to force a 1-1 draw at Euro 2004.

The "Azzurri" led for most of the Group C match at the impressive new Dragao stadium after a 37th-minute goal by emerging star Antonio Cassano in an all-out first-half assault. By the end of Friday's game, however, it was the defensive Italy of old.

"In the last 20 minutes we had the wrong attitude," captain and defender Fabio Cannavaro said. "We returned to a defensive Italy, we were afraid."

By the time Ibrahimovic scored, coach Giovanni Trapattoni had removed nearly all of Italy's attack.

While Sweden was in the process of beefing up its attack to four strikers, Italy first removed Cassano in the 70th minute
« Summary »

Group C 18 June 2004 1945 CET

Dragão, Oporto Attendance 44,926


Cassano 37

Ibrahimovic 85
Italy (4-3-1-2) Buffon; Panucci, Cannavaro, Nesta, Zambrotta; Gattuso (Favalli 76), Pirlo, Perrotta; Cassano (Fiore 70); Vieri, Del Piero (Camoranesi 82).
Sweden (4-4-2) Isaksson; Nilsson, Mellberg, Jakobsson, Edman (Allback 77); Linderoth, Wilhelmsson (M.Jonson 67), Ljungberg, Svensson (Kallstrom 55); Ibrahimovic, Larsson.
Referee Urs Meier (SUI)

for midfielder Stefano Fiore, then Alessandro Del Piero was replaced by midfielder Mauro Camoranesi in the 82nd.

Only forward Christian Vieri, more of a finisher than a player capable of creating goals on his own, remained. Trapattoni acknowledged that Vieri had little energy by match's end.

"He might have been tired. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to give him any rest," the coach said.

"We produced a great performance in the first half, we had a lot of chances and their goalkeeper made good saves," said Trapattoni. "In the final minutes we were tired and slowed down. Certainly the result makes our chances for qualifying questionable."

Italy must win its final group match against Bulgaria on Tuesday, and hope that Sweden and Denmark don't play a 2-2 draw, which would qualify both teams.

"If they manage that, I'll pack my bags and go home," Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. "To draw 2-2 is not so easy. I'd like to see who would score the first goal. It would be a very dangerous game for them to play.

"The Scandinavian teams are loyal thus I expect a strong effort by both sides."

Failing to advance would be an even worse performance for Italy than its second-round ouster against co-host South Korea at the World Cup two years ago.

The lasting image from that match was the controversial expulsion of star playmaker Francesco Totti by referee Byron Moreno.

Totti missed all of Friday's match as he began a three-match ban for spitting at a Danish opponent in the team's opening 0-0 draw here.

Cassano, Totti's replacement, scored with a glancing header off a cross from AS Roma teammate Christian Panucci.

Considered one of Italy's best young talents, the 21-year-old Cassano celebrated the goal by blowing a kiss to Totti, who was sitting in the stands.

"It was like in the last World Cup, when we allowed goals in the closing minutes," Buffon said.

Ibrahimovic said his team was satisfied with the draw as Italy is "one of the most difficult teams to play."

Ibrahimovic's goal came when he leaped on a bouncing ball in the area and flicked it with his right heel behind Buffon.

"We scored a lucky goal and have to be satisfied with one point," Ibrahimovic said. "It was an incredible goal. The ball was coming from the air, it was a one touch and it went in. Lucky."
- AP



 « Group Standings »

Group C

P W D L F A Pt
Sweden 2 1 1 0 6 1 4
Denmark 2 1 1 0 2 0 4
Italy 2 0 2 0 1 1 2
Bulgaria 2 0 0 2 0 7 0


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 « Match Stats »

1 Goals 1
1 Halftime 0
10 Corners 5
6 Offsides 1
16 Fouls 22
3 Yellow cards 2
0 Red cards 0
22 Free kicks 21
9 Shots on target 4
11 Shots off target 4
0 Woodwork 0
4 Saves 5
0 GL Clearances 1
54% Possession 46%



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