Italy held to draw by Republic of Ireland

Italy 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Published Saturday, 31 May 2014
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Boss Martin O'Neill has applauded his players after the Republic of Ireland held World Cup-bound Italy to a goalless draw, in a game which saw Riccardo Montolivo break his leg at Craven Cottage on Saturday night.

Italy held to draw by Republic of Ireland
Italy's midfielder Riccardo Montolivo lies injured at Craven Cottage (© Getty)

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, whose side begin their World Cup campaign against England on 14 June in Manaus, used the friendly in London to try out some of his fringe players before naming his final 23-man squad for Brazil.

But Ireland looked the more dangerous of the two sides and were unlucky not to go in front in the 78th minute when substitute Stephen Kelly saw his effort beat Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu but hit the crossbar.

Sirigu had earlier made some fantastic saves to deny Ireland the lead.

O'Neill praised Ireland's impressive performance, which comes after a 2-1 defeat against Turkey in Dublin last weekend.

O'Neill had made five changes to the side that lost the friendly against Turkey.

"We played very well indeed," O'Neill said. "Italy started well and had two chances in the opening 10 minutes but after that, we settled down.

I thought we were excellent. We could have scored a few goals.

Martin O'Neill

"I'm very pleased with the way we played against Italy", O'Neill added.

"I thought the game was very competitive from start to finish, just what both teams wanted."

Meanwhile, AC Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo will miss the World Cup after he suffered a broken leg early in the first half following a challenge with Ireland's Alex Pearce.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) confirmed Montolivo has a fractured tibia and will be taken to Milan in an air ambulance on Sunday ahead of surgery.

"All our thoughts are with Riccardo right now," Prandelli said. "I haven't spoken to him yet.

"Montolivo is an important player for us. He has become in the past few years a reference player not only on the pitch but off it. Obviously, his team-mates are shocked."

Italy are now winless in their last six games and Montolivo's absence will no doubt hurt Italy in Brazil.

It took its toll in London as Italy struggled to create a decent chance after his departure.

"Everyone got distracted by the injury," Prandelli said. "It's difficult to assess the game right now, we will do that once we return to Florence tomorrow.

"There were positives from this game but we wish there could have been more."

Prandelli was set to name his final squad for the World Cup on Sunday.

"I might take one extra day to name the squad but we will see tomorrow," he said.

The Azzurri take on Luxembourg next week in their final friendly before travelling to Brazil.

© UTV News
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