This experimental Italy side suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to the USA, their first ever, as they only raised the tempo in the final 10 minutes.
The Azzurri continued the preparations for Euro 2012 by experimenting with a new strike force of Thiago Motta behind Sebastian Giovinco and Alessandro Matri, while Fabio Borini was on the bench preparing for his senior debut. Torino star Angelo Ogbonna was also tested out in central defence. Mario Balotelli and Daniel Pablo Osvaldo were dropped for breaking the code of ethics with bans for reaction fouls, while Antonio Di Natale, Giuseppe Rossi, Antonio Cassano and Alberto Gilardino were among the injuries. Jurgen Klinsmann's USA were without many of their top players, such as Landon Donovan, and adopted a system with Jozy Altidore as the lone striker.
This was a return to Marassi for the first time since the October 2010 night when the Euro 2012 qualifier with Serbia was abandoned due to the actions of the visiting hooligans. The Azzurri played with their away strip of all white with a blue bar across the chest. USA had never beaten Italy with just three draws and seven defeats.
In the opening 45 seconds a long Antonio Nocerino pass found Matri, but Tim Howard rushed to the edge to clear. Soon after, Christian Maggio pulled across the face of goal for Thiago Motta, forcing Howard to parry with his feet from point-blank range.
Giovinco took advantage of a wobbly Howard rush off the line, but his touch was too heavy and he couldn’t steer it back into the empty net. The Americans were also dangerous, as Brek Shea drilled well wide from the D after good work from Fabian Johnson down the left.
Giovinco sprung the offside trap and smashed a left-foot rising strike at the near post for Howard to capture. Matri had the ball in the net, but was flagged offside. Altidore needed treatment when Andrea Pirlo accidentally trod on his hand.
Howard also smothered a Domenico Criscito angled drive. Christian Maggio barged over Altidore when he found space through the middle and Gigi Buffon punched away the resulting Clint Dempsey free kick from under the bar.
Moments later, Buffon again used his fist, this time to punch away a chipped free kick into the box from Chievo midfielder Michael Bradley.
Howard needed two touches to control the Thiago Motta low volley from outside the penalty area.
Cesare Prandelli made two changes at the break, introducing Giorgio Chiellini and Riccardo Montolivo for Criscito and Nocerino, moving Ogbonna to left-back. Straight after the restart, Giovinco let a long ball drop and smacked it at Howard, but was incorrectly ruled offside. Moments later, another Giovinco move was flagged in a very dubious incident.
But it was America who took the lead from out of nowhere. Altidor knocked back a Johnson cross for Dempsey just inside the area to place a daisy-cutter across Buffon into the bottom corner. Andrea Barzagli was a little slow closing him down.
Roma talent Borini was given his senior Italy debut and Giampaolo Pazzini was also introduced for a 4-3-3 system with Giovinco wide left. The two substitutes immediately combined as Pazzini’s dribbling move set up Borini for a shot well plucked out of the air by Howard.
Chievo midfielder Bradley did well to time his challenge on Giovinco in the area. Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate replaced Maggio and Claudio Marchisio. Ogbonna even had a shot, but it was over the bar.
Abate burst down the right channel and rolled across for Pazzini, but a crucial interception almost forced an own goal. From that corner, Borini’s strike was charged down in the area.
A wayward shot turned into an assist for Borini, but he couldn’t beat Howard, then another Borini effort was cleared with great difficulty. Pirlo’s strike was charged down by Jonathan Spector, then during the same move Giovinco had timid penalty appeals.
Italy only raised the tempo in the final 10 minutes, pinning the USA back into their own half. Chiellini nodded over from a corner and both Howard and the Italy players failed to get on the end of a Borini low cross.
Clarence Goodson charged down another Giovinco attempt. In stoppages, De Rossi and Pazzini combined, but Montolivo blasted wide of the far top corner.
Italy 0-1 USA
Scorers: Dempsey 54 (U)
Italy:Buffon; Maggio (Abate 69), Barzagli, Ogbonna, Criscito (Chiellini 46); Nocerino (Montolivo 46), Pirlo, Marchisio (De Rossi 69); Thiago Motta (Pazzini 58); Giovinco, Matri (Borini 58)
USA:Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Johnson (Spector 76); Edu, Bradley, Dempsey (Buddle 92), Shea (Kljestan 72), Williams; Altidore (Boyd 78)
Ref: Aydinus (Tur)
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