Italy v Romania, 13 June 2008

Score1-1
RefereeTom Henning Ovrebo
CompetitionUEFA European Championship Finals Group C
VenueLetzigrund, Zurich
Attendance30,585
Kick-off: 6.00pm local Assistant referees: Geir Åge Holen (Norway) Jan Petter Randen (Norway) Fourth official: Ivan Bebek (Croatia) Man of the Match: Andrea Pirlo (Italy) Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon superbly saved Adrian Mutu's penalty with nine minutes remaining to keep the world champions' UEFA EURO 2008 hopes alive as the Azzurri and Romania battled out a breathless draw in Zurich. Buffon dived to his left to block the ACF Fiorentina striker's stinging drive with his arm and foot after Christian Panucci had held back Daniel Niculae in the area. Defeat would have left Italian ambitions on a knife-edge but in a free-flowing match they delivered a perfect response to Mutu's 55th-minute opener as Panucci levelled seconds later. It salvaged a crucial point, which kept Italy in Group C contention before their reprise of the FIFA World Cup final against France on Thursday when Romania play the Netherlands. Italy coach Roberto Donadoni made five changes to the side that lost to the Netherlands as he looked to rescue their campaign. Victor Piţurcă had more reason to be satisfied after a goalless draw with France, but still freshened up his midfield, with Florentin Petre and Paul Codrea coming in – the latter bringing experience of Italian football with AC Siena. Italy's reshuffled back line was tested in the first minute when Mutu nodded over and in an open game it was immediately clear that Romania were willing to commit more men forward than they had against France. Alessandro Del Piero made his first start since September and Italy's captain almost had an early impact when his header was deflected wide. Romania then created three excellent chances in the space of four minutes. Buffon saved brilliantly from Mutu, who had broken free down the left, then stretched to keep out a Gabriel Tamaş free-kick. The goalkeeper was beaten, however, when Cristian Chivu's long-range free-kick deflected off Panucci, but the ball bounced back off the post. Piţurcă's team were showing all the invention they had concealed against France and their coach, sensing the momentum was going their way, chose to withdraw the injured Mirel Rădoi for the forward-thinking Nicolae Dică on 25 minutes. Attack was dominating defence, with Romania's slick passing inviting fear in the Italy rearguard while Luca Toni was winning everything in the air at the other end, Bogdan Lobonţ tipping one header over. AC Milan pair Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso had made way for Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta in Italy's midfield, yet their replacements were finding little joy against Chivu, who cut off the supply line down the centre. Mutu also continued to catch the eye, drawing a smart stop from Buffon before pouncing on Gianluca Zambrotta's weak back-header to fire his side in front ten minutes into the second period. The Romania fans were still celebrating when Italy hit back, Giorgio Chiellini heading a corner back across goal for Panucci to knock in. Lobonţ had to touch away De Rossi's diving header as Italy pushed for a second goal, although it was Romania who had the best opportunity to win a breathtaking contest. Panucci was adjudged to have restricted Niculae with his arms in the area, allowing Mutu the chance to snatch what would have been a memorable victory. The Azzurri were staring defeat and possible elimination in the face but Buffon produced a dramatic diving save to his left to keep his team in the competition.

1  Italy

Manager: Roberto Donadoni

1  Romania

Manager: Victor Piturca

Goals:

Christian Panucci 56 G

Goals:

Adrian Mutu 55 G

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon
Defender/Midfielder Fabio Grosso
Defender/Midfielder Gianluca Zambrotta
Midfielder Mauro Camoranesi
Midfielder Daniele De Rossi
Midfielder Simone Perrotta
Forward Alessandro Del Piero (captain)
Forward Andrea Pirlo
Forward Luca Toni

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Bogdan Lobonț
Defender Cristian Chivu (captain)
Defender Cosmin Contra
Defender Dorin Goian
Defender Mirel Rădoi
Defender Răzvan Raţ
Defender Gabriel Tamaş
Midfielder Paul Codrea
Midfielder Florentin Petre
Forward Adrian Mutu
Forward Daniel Niculae

Substitutions:

Antonio Cassano for Simone Perrotta 58
Fabio Quagliarella for Alessandro Del Piero 77
Massimo Ambrosini for Mauro Camoranesi 85

Substitutions:

Nicolae Dica for Mirel Rădoi 25
Bănel Nicoliţă for Florentin Petre 59
Răzvan Cociş for Adrian Mutu 88

Cards:

Andrea Pirlo 61 Y
Daniele De Rossi 90 Y

Cards:

Adrian Mutu 43 Y
Cristian Chivu 58 Y
Dorin Goian 73 Y

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Marco Amelia
Goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis
Defender Andrea Barzagli
Defender/Centre back Marco Materazzi
Midfielder Massimo Ambrosini
Midfielder Alberto Aquilani
Midfielder Gennaro Gattuso
Forward Marco Borriello
Forward Antonio Cassano

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Marius Popa
Goalkeeper Eduard Stancioiu
Defender Sorin Ghionea
Defender Cosmin Moţi
Defender Stefan Radu
Midfielder Adrian Cristea
Midfielder Bănel Nicoliţă
Midfielder/Forward Răzvan Cociş
Midfielder/Forward Nicolae Dica
Forward Ciprian Marica

Comments:

- A day after Ivica Vastic became the oldest goalscorer in the history of this tournament, 35-year-old Christian Panucci became the second oldest player to score at a European Championship. Before today, Alessandro Altobelli was the oldest Italian to score in a European Championship match, when netting against Denmark (2-0) at Euro 1988 at the age of 32 years and 202 days. - Reigning world champions Italy are in danger of being knocked out in the group stage. The last two reigning world champions from Europe went on to at least reach the final of the next European Championship.

Comments:

- Adrian Mutu's missed penalty was the third penalty miss against Italy in four attempts in European Championship history (excluding penalty shoot-outs) - Dorin Goian is suspended for the final group match against the Netherlands. Goian scored the only goal when these teams last met in a European Championship qualifier on 13 October 2007.