Johannesburg: Slovakian football rose up to another level in the 2010 World Cup with their taming of defending champions Italy 3-2, thus knocking them out at the end of the first round itself.
It was one of those rarest of the rare instances where the title holders were knocked out in the first part of the tournament. The win also saw Slovakia through to the next stage of the World Cup.
Italy finally scored a goal in the 81st minute as Di Natale stabbed the ball home following Mucha`s save on Quagliarella`s shot. They soon netted again but it was an off-side shot that wasn’t counted. ‘Despair for Italy’ was the reaction from a gamut of fans around the world. Even in injury time, Italy gave a solid fight-back as Quagliarella F. came with another goal for Italy but it was a tad bit too late.
The goal was followed up with a confrontation inside the net itself that resulted in a yellow card for Jan Mucha.
Italy’s nightmare grew darker as the match progressed in the second half, with Robert Vittek wrecking havoc with his second goal of the night in the 73rd minute. Kopunek K. came alive in the 89th minute to get Slovakia the elusive third goal and an insurmountable lead.
In a rude shock to the Italian fans, Slovakia had taken an early lead when Vittek netted the first goal for his country in the 25th minute.
Vittek buried the ball into the bottom corner of the net following a poor clearance by Italy defender De Rossi.
The do-or-die tie between defending champions Italy and Slovakia began with the Azzurri trying to get in the Jambulani into the net right from the word go. They were however matched by the Slovenian outfit with a matching temperament, at least in the initial stages.
Slovakia line-up: Mucha, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Zabavnik, Strba, Hamsik, Kucka, Stoch, Jendrisek, Vittek
Italy line-up: Marchetti, Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Criscito, Gattuso, De Rossi, Montolivo, Pepe, Iaquinta, Di Natale