Ivory Coast spoiled Cesare Prandelli's debut as Italy coach with a 1-0 defeat of the Azzurri at London's Upton Park.
Manchester City FC defender Kolo Touré scored the only goal ten minutes into the second half, meaning that just like predecessors Giovanni Trapattoni, Marcello Lippi and Roberto Donadoni, Prandelli failed to win his first game in charge. "I hope this defeat ends up bringing good luck as it did for Lippi," said the former ACF Fiorentina coach.
Italy started brightly in the first half, with debutant Mario Balotelli and the recalled Antonio Cassano much in evidence, but the best chance fell at the other end to Gervinho, the LOSC Lille Métropole striker unable to beat Salvatore Sirigu, making his Azzurri bow in goal. Marco Motta – another newcomer – hit the post after the break and moments later Touré headed in a Guy Demel cross. Fabio Quagliarella and Marco Borriello were brought off the bench but Italy will begin their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaign in Estonia on 3 September having not won since beating Sweden 1-0 last November.
Prandelli reflected: "
I knew that building a competitive team in a couple of days would be difficult, but the players gave all they can at the moment. To reach the required standard we must keep working with both enthusiasm and commitment. People love this squad and [the fans] also showed their passion tonight, but we must improve as I'm sure they can do much better than this.
"Cassano played pretty well and for Balotelli it was his first game with the senior team, but I wanted him to be part of this squad and a couple of times he showed glimpses of his class. When we play with three strikers we need more balance and we are going to work on it. We must improve our quality: if we will be able to do that, we will grow in confidence."
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