JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 24: Fabio Cannavaro captain of Italy (C) encourages his dejected team mates following the first goal by Slovakia during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group F match between Slovakia and Italy at Ellis Park Stadium on June 24, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Italy Crashes Out, Last In Group F, After 3-2 Loss To Slovakia

The 2006 world champions have only two points through two matches and must get a result against Slovakia on Thursday to have a chance to advance out of Group F.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Slovaks Advance, Eliminate Italy, With 3-2 Upset

For the first time since West Germany 1984, Italy has been eliminated from the World Cup at group stage after losing 3-2 to Slovakia. The Azzurri finish with two points, last place in Group F- the first time the Italians have failed to win a match in a World Cup in which they participated.

The trouble started early for Italy, who were giving a Slovakia midfield that had been sub-par throughout the tournament to control of midfield, leading to Robert Vittek’s 25th minute goal. A Daniele De Rossi giveaway let to Vittek’s 22-yard shot from near the arc, beating Federico Marchetti to his right post.

Vittek would make the lead two in the second half, finishing play from a corner kick to beat Marchetti to his left, near post, making it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.

Seven minutes later, Italy pulled a goal back, when interplay between Vincenzo Iaquinta and Fabio Quagliarella led Antonio Di Natale having an unprotected goal to put through a rebound, making it 2-1 Slovakia.

In the 89th minute, Slovakia’s Kamiil Kopunek, having just come on for midfielder Zdeno Strba, beat Marchetti with his first touch, chipping a bouncing ball from the right of the penalty area over an oncoming goalkeeper to give Slovakia a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 leave near full-time.

Italy would pose a final threat in stoppage time, with Quagliarella bringing the Azzurri within one in the 92nd minute, putting a right-footed shot from 22 yards into the upper-left-hand corner of goal, making it 3-2.

Italy would have one final chance in the 94th minute when a long throw-in was flicked far post for Simone Pepe, whose half-volley chance went wide.

Italy had one goal controversially denied in the 67th minute, when a Quagliarella shot from 8 yards out was saved off-the-line by Martin Skrtel, though it was unclear whether the ball had crossed the line before the defender’s right knee blocked the ball back into the field of play.

The 3-2 final puts Slovakia through into the knockout stage, advancing in the first major competition in which they’ve participated. With four points, the move through in second place, finishing one point behind Paraguay.

Italy finished with two points and in fourth place, one point behind New Zealand.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Fabio Quagliarella Injects Life Into Italy, Brings Azzurri Within One

A 22-yard right-footed shot from Fabio Quagliarella has Italy within one in the 92nd minute, now trailing Slovakia 3-2.

Play along the top of the penalty area found the attacker even with Jan Mucha’s left post. The right-footed shot went into the upper left-hand corner, an unstoppable shot to make it 3-2 in second half stoppage time.

With one more goal, Italy goes through in second place of Group F. As results stand, Italy would finish fourth in Group F, with Slovakia going through as the second place team.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Kamil Kopunek Seals Italy's Fate, Puts Slovakia Up 3-1

With his first touch since being brought on as a substitute for Zdeno Strba, Kamil Kopunek ran onto a bouncing ball in the right part of the Italy penalty area, chipped his shot over the oncoming Federico Marchetti, and gave Slovakia a 3-1 lead in the 89th minute of their match against Italy.

Italy had just pulled back one of the two goals they were chasing, but Kopunek’s goal likely puts Italy out of the 2010 World Cup.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Antonio Di Natale's 80th Minute Goal Pulls Italy Within One

Antonio Di Natale put a rebound of a Fabio Quagliarella shot into an empty net to bring Italy within one of Slovakia, 2-1, in the 80th minutes.

One touch play between Quagliarella and Vincenzo Iaquinta gave Quagliarella a chance on Jan Mucha from near the penalty spot. Mucha had come off his line to cut off the angles, but his save went to Di Natale to the left of goal, who put the ball into the unprotected net.

Italy remains set to finish bottom of Group F, with Slovakia slated to go through, if results hold.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Robert Vittek's Second Goal Puts Defending Champions On Life Support

Robert Vittek scored his second goal of the match in the 74th minute, finishing the play off a corner kick, to put the defending champion Italy down 2-0 and likely out of the World Cup.

A Marek Hamsik corner kick failed to clear the first Italian defender, but the ball headed back to the Slovak kick-taker was rolled to the end of the six, near post, for Vittek’s right-footed finish, giving the Slovak’s a 2-0 lead.

Italy, as results stand, is set to finish last in Group F, with Slovakia on track for a second place finish, with Paraguay and New Zealand drawn 0-0 in the group’s other match.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Andrea Pirlo Makes World Cup 2010 Debut

Marcello Lippi has made his final substitution in the 56th minute, bringing on Andrea Pirlo in what could be seen as a final act of desperation.

Pirlo missed the first two matches of Italy’s World Cup with a calf injury, his absence pointed to as a reason for the Azzurri’s lack of attacking prowess. Not starting the final group match, it was though Pirlo’s injury had not improved enough to play, but now down 1-0 with potentially just over a half hour left in their World Cup, Italy has brought Pirlo on.

Italy had used their previous two substitutions coming out of half time, bringing on Fabio Quagliarella and Christian Maggio.

If results hold, Italy will finish last in Group F, with Slovakia going through in second place, behind Paraguay.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Robert Vittek, Slovaks Have Italians On Verge Of Elimination

Robert Vittek’s 26th minute goal has Slovakia up 1-0 and in position to advance as the second place team out of Group F.

The Slovakian striker was the beneficiary for a surprise Daniele De Rossi giveaway in the Italy end, converted into an opportunity for Vittek from the arc. The striker fired a shot along the ground to the left post, beating Federico Marchetti for the opening goal.

Slovakia came close a to a second goal when a long shot from Zdeno Strba forced Marchetti into a parry at his right post.

Unlike their first two matches, Italy has not been able to control play through the middle of the pitch, with Slovakia having more of the ball and able to generate the half’s scoring chances.

If the two Group F matches end as is, Italy would finish in last place with two points, one point behind New Zealand.

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World Cup 2010, Italy Vs. Slovakia: Robert Vittek Turns Turnover Into Tally, Puts Slovakia Up

Slovakia has Italy on the verge of elimination, with Robert Vittek’s 26th minute goal putting the Slovaks ahead of Italy 1-0 and in a position to go through Group F.

A bad Daniele De Rossi giveaway in his own end ended up on Robert Vittek’s foot near the arc. The Slovakian striker’s shot end along the ground just inside Federico Marchetti’s right post, giving the Slovaks the lead.

Italy has now allowed three goals this tournament without a save.

As Group F currently stands, Paraguay and Slovakia would go through.

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