The official website for European football

Pazzini fires Italy past Slovenia to finals

Published: Tuesday 6 September 2011, 23.27CET
Italy 1-0 Slovenia
Substitute Giampaolo Pazzini's 85th-minute strike against Slovenia earned Italy a seventh win in eight Group C matches and secured their finals place.
Published: Tuesday 6 September 2011, 23.27CET

Pazzini fires Italy past Slovenia to finals

Italy 1-0 Slovenia
Substitute Giampaolo Pazzini's 85th-minute strike against Slovenia earned Italy a seventh win in eight Group C matches and secured their finals place.

A second 1-0 victory in five days proved enough for Italy to earn qualification for UEFA EURO 2012 with two Group C games to play, substitute Giampaolo Pazzini scoring the winner five minutes from time against Slovenia in Florence.

Cesare Prandelli had said before the game that he was dreaming of celebrating qualification at the home of his former club side ACF Fiorentina. But the Azzurri left it late to grant his wish with Pazzini, another former Fiorentina man, firing the ball under the bar after the Slovenia defence had failed to clear a cross by Claudio Marchisio from the right.

Italy, who have now not conceded for 599 minutes in the section, might have had a more comfortable evening had Giuseppe Rossi scored when breaking clear after 20 seconds. He eluded Slovenia's offside trap in racing on to Daniele De Rossi's long ball but Jasmin Handanovič turned away the striker's shot with his left foot.

With his cousin Samir suspended, the stand-in Slovenia goalkeeper was relieved to see a close-range header by Riccardo Montolivo finish just wide soon later. There was another close call after 18 minutes when Rossi, sent clear by Antonio Cassano's pass, fired a left-foot shot wide with only Handanovič to beat.

At the other end Dare Vršič tested Gianluigi Buffon from outside the penalty box but failed to angle his powerful shot sufficiently, allowing the Italy goalkeeper to punch it away. Buffon also had to turn away a curling Robert Koren effort but it was Italy who continued setting the pace and only a last-gasp sliding tackle by Boštjan Cesar prevented De Rossi from scoring from a Montolivo pass.

After struggling to break down the well-organised Slovenia defence at the start of the second half, Italy created three great opportunities to score in one minute. Andraž Kirm's goalline header foiled De Rossi, then Handanovič made a reflex save to keep out a close-range shot by the AS Roma midfielder before Rossi fired over on the volley. Just when it looked like the Azzurri might be frustrated, though, Pazzini had the last word and Prandelli can now start planning for Italy's fifth successive UEFA European Championship. Slovenia are in fourth, three points behind second-placed Serbia, who they meet in their only remaining game on 11 October hoping to still be in contention.

Last updated: 26/09/14 5.20CET

Related information

Player profiles
Related match

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/matches/round=15171/match=2002168/postmatch/report/index.html#pazzini+fires+italy+past+slovenia+finals

UEFA.com features

Sanderson on England and Arsenal return
  • Sanderson on England and Arsenal return
  • Lyon academy products making the grade
  • Who has won titles in the most European nations?
  • Penalty shoot-outs: the long and the short of it
  • Story so far: Real Madrid CF
  • Guingamp magic floors Paris
  • Fenerbahçe great Alex calls time on career
  • Gabbiadini inspires high-flying Sampdoria
  • UEFA Champions League round of 16 classics
  • UEFA Europa League stars and strikes
1 of 10
 
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.