The Slovenia Times

Better Luck Next Time!


Needing at least a draw to stay in the hunt for second place in group C, Slovenia saw the door slammed shut by Pazzini in the 85th minute, after some indecisive defending allowed him to slot in from close range.

The goal was the final nail in the coffin for Matjaz Kek's squad in the current round of qualifying, after a shock defeat to Estonia on Friday in Ljubljana left it reeling in its hunt for second place in the group.

The task of surprising the four-time world champions in front of the home crowd was always going to be a tall order. While Slovenia proved to be a worthy opponent for most of the match, Italy always seemed to have an extra trick up its sleeve.

The home team came out more aggressively, creating two opportunities in the opening minutes through a shot on goal from Giueseppe Rossi, which was parried by Slovenian goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic, and a header by Riccardo Montolivo that went just wide.

Slovenia eventually steadied the ship after ten minutes of play, although Italy again created a chance in the 18th minute, when Antonio Cassano found Rossi in the box, whose shot went slightly wide of goal.

Slovenia created its first chance two minutes later through midfielder Dare Vrsic, whose shot on goal flew directly at Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

De Rossi squandered a header from close range in the 34th minute, before Slovenia created two chance from range, which however did not trouble Buffon.

The opening minutes of the second half saw few opportunities for either team, but the match finally opened after the two managers sent in fresh forces from the bench.

Italy was on the verge of scoring three times in the space of 30 seconds in the 68th minute, as Slovenia had trouble clearing the ball from the box after a corner.

Slovenia gained momentum after that, but failed to create a clear scoring opportunity, with substitute Nejc Pecnik coming closest to threatening the Italian goal with a shot from the edge of the box that was deflected by the Italy's defenders.

Italy came close through a shot from distance by Claudio Marchisio, before Pazzini finally crowned Italy's advantage in opportunities by flicking in from close after out-jumping two Slovenian defenders on a cross.

The loss drops Slovenia to fourth place in group C, behind Serbia and Estonia, whereas the loss secures Italy first place in the group and a place at Euro 2012.


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