Friday October 11 2013
Aquilani snatches point in Denmark

Italy went behind to a brace of Nicklas Bendtner headers, but Alberto Aquilani snatched a 2-2 in stoppages.

The Azzurri have not lost a World Cup qualifier since a 1-0 in Slovenia on October 9 2004.

Cesare Prandelli was able to perform experiments in Copenhagen, having already qualified for the World Cup with two games to spare. Federico Balzaretti, Andrea Ranocchia, Lorenzo De Silvestri, Thiago Motta, Alessandro Diamanti and Dani Osvaldo got rare starts, as Mario Balotelli, Lorenzo Insigne, Daniele De Rossi and Marco Verratti were injured. Denmark needed a win to take second place, but even that might not be enough to qualify for the play-offs.

Gigi Buffon became the sole all-time most capped player in Italy history with his 137th appearance.

Osvaldo went on the counter and pulled back for Diamanti, but Daniel Agger charged down his shot in the box. Antonio Candreva got to the by-line and tried to set up Osvaldo for a tap-in, but goalkeeper Stephan Andersen crucially flapped it away.

Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen’s free kick flashed across the face of goal with nobody able to get a touch.

Italy broke the deadlock with a wonderful goal from Osvaldo. He trapped a long Thiago Motta pass, skinned Daniel Agger to cut inside and placed his finish into the far bottom corner. Curiously, the Southampton striker’s last Azzurri goal was almost exactly a year ago – October 12 2012.

Balzaretti did well to put a dangerous Boilesen cross out for a corner, from which Agger’s header was wayward. Eriksen went closer, as his misplaced cross turned into a shot that hit the side-netting, while Michael Krohn-Dehli was eventually crowded out after good footwork.

In first half stoppages Denmark equalised, as ex-Juventus flop Nicklas Bendtner surprised Balzaretti at the back post to nod in a Krohn-Dehli cross.

Straight after the restart Osvaldo had penalty appeals waved away for a tussle in the box as he tried to get on the end of a Diamanti cross. Riccardo Montolivo went on a rapid counter, but opted for Diamanti – who fired inches wide of the near post – rather than the better placed Candreva.

In this second half Montolivo and Thiago Motta switched places, putting the PSG man in front of the defence in the ‘Pirlo role.’

Eriksen nearly turned the game around completely for the hosts, as his free kick curled over the wall and thumped the upright with Buffon rooted to the spot.

Claudio Marchisio should’ve made it 2-1 for Italy, but side-footed straight at Andersen when sent through by Diamanti.

Buffon palmed a long-range attempt from ex-Udinese midfielder Niki Zimling over the bar, but there was chaos from the resulting corner. Andreas Bjelland half-volleyed on to the crossbar, it hit Osvaldo’s back and Buffon scrambled to prevent an own goal.

The Azzurri were clearly getting deeper and deeper in this second half, as Denmark pushed hard for all three points.

Alessio Cerci came on and within 10 seconds had surged forward on the counter, setting up Candreva for a strike that was palmed round the far post.

However, moments later Bendtner scored a second to make it 2-1 for Denmark. Krohn-Dehli skipped past Andrea Ranocchia on the Danish left and his cross found Bendtner’s towering header, though Buffon seemed a little slow to get down to it.

Alberto Gilardino had a couple of chances, but deep into stoppages another substitute proved decisive. Osvaldo’s shot was deflected in off Alberto Aquilani’s shin from four yards to surprise the Danish defence.

Denmark 2-2 Italy

Scorers: Osvaldo 28 (I), Bendtner 45+1, 79 (D), Aquilani 91 (I)

Denmark: Andersen; Jacobsen, Bjelland, Agger, Boilesen; Kvist, Zimling (Andreasen 81); Braithwaite (Larsen 46), Eriksen, Krohn-Dehli; Bendtner (Makienok 84)

Italy: Buffon; Balzaretti, Chiellini, Ranocchia, De Silvestri; Thiago Motta, Montolivo (Gilardino 81), Marchisio (Aquilani 68); Diamanti (Cerci 77), Candreva; Osvaldo

Ref: Lennoy (FRA)

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