World Cup 2010: Sluggish Italians Able To Salvage A Point In 1-1 Tie Against Paraguay

Italy opens their World Cup on Monday against Paraguay, but if Marcello Lippi can not cover for on of his defense's glaring weaknesses, a powerful Paraguay strike force could give Italy another slow start.

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World Cup 2010 - Italy 1, Paraguay 1: De Rossi Goal Saves Azzurri

A Justo Villar howler gave Italy a point against Paraguay, with Daniele De Rossi’s 64th minute goal enabling Italy to salvage a draw in Cape Town.

Paraguay will be happy with their point from the defending champions but could have had more, as Villar’s mistake coming off his line for a ball played by Simone Pepe allowed De Rossi to pull Italy even. The crossed ball flew over the Paraguayan goalkeeper and down onto the right foot of De Rossi, who redirected the ball into the open net.

The goal came amidst a match that had been dominated, in terms of possession, by Italy, though the Azzurri could generate no real scoring chances. Paraguay, having set-up conservatively at the match’s onset, were sitting on a first half goal, with only Villar’s mistake costing them three points.

That first half goal came from a set piece, when Aureliano Torres delivered a ball from 35 yards to near the spot, with defender Antolin Alcaraz rising to head the Paraguayans in front. It was a lead Paraguay would carry into halftime.

To start the second half, Italy replaced goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who it was later reported was suffering a hamstring problem. Federico Marchetti came on for the Juventus goalkeeper but had little to do in the half.

Italy faced an even more conservative Paraguayan take after halftime, and once Italy scored, the Azzurri pressed for the winner, maintaining control of the match.

Italy would finish the game with 57 percent of the possession, out-shooting Paraguay 5-1. With the one point won today, they move on to play New Zealand.

Paraguay’s next match will be against Slovakia.

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World Cup 2010 - Italy 1, Paraguay 1: Villar Shocker Allows De Rossi Equalizer

Justo Villar broke one the cardinal rules of goalkeeping, and as a result, Italy has equalized.

The Paraguayan `keeper came off his line to punch a ball floated across his six yard box, but when he missed his punch, Simone Pepe’s service found Daniele De Rossi for the Azzurri’s 64th minute equalizer.

The match is tied at one, with Maurco Camoranesi for Claudio Marchisio. For Paraguay, Jonathan Santana has replaced Aureliano Torres.

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World Cup 2010 - Paraguay 1, Italy 0: Gianluigi Buffon Subbed-Off At Halftime

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, consider amongst the best at his position in the world, has been substituted at halftime by Marcello Lippi.

Cagliari goalkeeper Federico Marchetti has come on.

There is no official word as to why Buffon has left the match, though ESPN’s coverage speculated that injury was the reason.

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World Cup 2010 - Paraguay 1, Italy 0: Underdogs Holding Halftime Lead

Gerardo Martino has set-up the Paraguayans to absorb and defend, and while Italy has been unable to craft a consistent way through the defense, Paraguay has gone ahead with a set piece goal.

In the 88th minute, Aureliano Torres lofted a beautiful ball from 35 yards out, and elevating from near the spot, just inside Gianluigi Buffon’s right post, center half Antolin Alcaraz headed the ball perfectly back to the near post, giving the all-world `keeper no chance. Paraguay was up 1-0 late in the half.

The defending champions, Italy allowed only one open play goal in the 2006 tournament. The Azzurri allowed a second goal in the final against France, with Zinadine Zidane converting a penalty kick.

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World Cup 2010 - Paraguay 1, Italy 0: Alcarez Heads Paraguay Up In 38th Minute

Antolin Alcaraz got on the end of a Aureliano Torres dead ball, out-jumped Fabio Cannavaro to head Paraguay ahead of Italy in the 38th minute in Cape Town.

Paraguay had played conservatively throughout the half and, aside some a small stretch in the middle of the half, seemed content to absorb the Italian attack.

But a free kick won 35 yards from goal allowed midfielder Aureliano Torres to place a beautiful ball near the spot. Central defender Antolin Alcaraz rose over Cannvaro to head the ball back across goal, giving Gianluigi Buffon no change.

On a rain-soaked pitch in Cape Town, Paraguay leads 1-0 after 38 minutes.

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