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Rediff.com  » Sports » Toni double fires Italy into semis

Toni double fires Italy into semis

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July 01, 2006 02:57 IST

Luca Toni struck twice in the second half as Italy beat Ukraine 3-0 on Friday to set up a World Cup semi-final against hosts Germany.

The Italians were clearly superior to a Ukraine side making their first appearance at a finals, although Oleg Blokhin's team twice hit the woodwork early in the second half.

Italy had a grip on the game from the sixth minute when Gianluca Zambrotta cut inside from the right flank and fired home a low left-foot shot.

Prompted by the goal, Blokhin made an early change in the 19th minute taking off defender Vyacheslav Svidersky for attacking midfielder Andriy Vorobei.

That did little to alter the pattern of the game, however, and with Francesco Totti showing some nice touches and Andrea Pirlo happy to control Italy's possession, Ukraine posed little threat.

Blokhin was forced into a second change just before the break when defender Andriy Rusol limped off to be replaced by Vladislav Vashchyuk.

The Ukrainians made a much more determined start to the second half though as Maxim Kalinichenko whipped in a wicked cross that Italy defender Andrea Barzagli miscued completely and screwed dangerously close to his own goal.

Kalinichenko provided the Italian defence with another scare when he found Andriy Husin whose back post header was pushed against the post by Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Suddenly Italy were in trouble, Buffon parried a shot from Oleg Gusev only as far as Kalinichenko whose low drive was cleared off the line in desperation by Zambrotta.

But just as the underdogs looked as though they were going to make Italy fight all the way, Toni got the second in the 59th minute with a stooping header at the back post from an inswinging Totti cross.

That should have calmed Italy's nerves but, straight away, Husin headed against the bar from another dangerous Kalinichenko cross.

However, the match was put beyond Ukraine when Zambrotta burst into the area from the left flank in the 69th minute and slid the ball across the goal to give Toni a simple tap-in.

The 3-0 win set up Italy's first meeting with Germany at a World Cup since their victory in the 1982 final.

The World Cup hosts beat Argentina in a penalty shooutout earlier on Friday and will face Italy in Dortmund on Tuesday.

Source:
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