Italy vs. Armenia: Final score 2-2 in a match that ultimately has no importance

Paolo Bruno

Italy and Armenia ended all square in Naples, ultimately resulting in no gains for either country. But hey, it was a fairly entertaining match, so there's that.

Italy, already qualified for the World Cup, had nothing to play for but pride (and a seed, I suppose) in Naples, while Armenia still had a chance of slipping in to Brazil via the playoffs. They sat fifth in Group B, but even on points with the Czech Republic, and both sides just a point behind Bulgaria and Denmark. Of course, due to UEFA's quirky playoff qualification rules, there was still a chance that no side from Group B would make the playoffs, but Armenia certainly weren't going to take that risk.

That's why it wasn't all surprising that Armenia scored the first goal, in the fifth minute. Yura Movsisya got on the end of a ball from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who stole it from a poor back pass from Alberto Aquilani. Defender Davide Astori tried to slide in to make the save, but Yura easily went around him to put the ball in the bottom corner from about 12 yards out.

Italy's defense was exposed once again 10 minutes later, when Aras Özbiliz and Karlen Mkrtchyan paired up to split apart the azzurri. Fortunately for the home side, Mkrtchyan blasted his shot well high.

The azzurri were back in it before 30 minutes were up. Pablo Osvaldo got the ball and sent it out to Lorenzo Insigne on the right. The hometown boy, who proved a brilliant spark in Italy's attack, chipped his cross over to Alessandro Florenzi, lurking just beside the post. His header flew past Roman Berezovskiy for the equalizer.

Insigne himself very nearly scored a fantastic goal to put Italy ahead, executing a lovely little backheel to escape his defender, but his shot went inches wide of the post. The Napoli forward, clearly thrilled to be representing his country in his hometown, then attempted a volleyed shot, before ending the half with a ball straight at Berezovski.

Armenia regained the lead in the second half, but it no longer mattered. Bulgaria fell to Czech Republic and Denmark beat Malta, but as it turned out, no side from Group B would be headed to the playoffs. Still, a goal's a goal. This one came from a corner from Gevorg Ghazaryan, with Mkhitaryan rising to head on.

The lead didn't last very long, however -- not with Mario Balotelli on the pitch. Just six minutes later, the scoreline was squared once again. Andrea Pirlo sent forward a lovely ball from midfield, perfectly placed for Balotelli. SuperMario dinked it over Berezovski for the equalizer.

Italy: Marchetti; Abate, Astori, Bonucci, Pasqual; Aquilani (Rossi 73), Pirlo, Montolivo; Florenzi (Candreva 61), Osvaldo (Balotelli 54), Insigne

Goals: Florenzi 24', Balotelli 76'

Armenia: Berezovski; Arzumanyan, Hayrapetyan (Hovhannisyan 63), Mkoyan, Haroyan; K Mkrtchyan, Ozbiliz (Sarkisov), Ghazaryan, Mkhitaryan; Yedigaryan (Pizzelli 90), Movsisyan

Goals: Movsisyan 5', Mkhitaryan 70'

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