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Northern Ireland threaten Italy's perfect start

Following a 5-0 win against the Faroe Islands, Italy go in search of a third Group C victory in succession at the expense of a Northern Ireland side on a high after defeating Slovenia.

Corry Evans scores Northern Ireland's winner in Slovenia last time out
Corry Evans scores Northern Ireland's winner in Slovenia last time out ©Getty Images

Italy are set to return to Northern Ireland for the first time in over half a century in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group C – and they are still looking for their first win in Belfast.

Match background
• Northern Ireland's record in seven games against Italy reads W1 D1 L5 (W1 D1 L0 at home).

• The only competitive matches between the two rivals came in qualifying for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Italy edged their first encounter 1-0 in Rome on 25 April 1957 but lost 2-1 in Belfast in the return fixture on 15 January 1958.

• In between those meetings, the teams contested a friendly in Northern Ireland on 4 December 1957, when the score ended 2-2. That was the last time the two nations crossed paths in Belfast.

• There have been four further friendly matches since then, all of them held in Italy and all producing wins for the home side; the most recent finished 3-0 to the Azzurri in Pisa on 6 June 2009.

• Somewhat ominously, Northern Ireland have not scored in their last three games against Italy, a run which stretches back to a 3-2 friendly loss in Bologna on 25 April 1961.