International round-up: Humiliated Italy ruin send-off in being held by lowly Luxembourg
Thursday 05 June 2014
England may have been disappointed with their 2-2 draw with Ecuador last night but that is nothing compared with the embarrassment inflicted on Italy, their first opponents in Brazil, who were held 1-1 by Luxembourg in Perugia last night.
The Azzurri brought back Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli after failing to break down the Republic of Ireland on Saturday and they made an early breakthrough with Claudio Marchisio's ninth-minute strike. However, Cesare Prandelli's side failed to build on their lead and were shocked with five minutes to go when Luxembourg defender Maxime Chanot, who once played for Sheffield United and Mansfield, powered home a near-post header from a corner.
Luxembourg are ranked No 112 in the world and, although they beat Northern Ireland in the autumn, were recently held to a goalless draw by the Cape Verde Islands. Italy have now gone seven games without a win.
The Netherlands were solid but uninspired in seeing off a makeshift Wales side 2-0 in Amsterdam, Robin van Persie playing 45 minutes as he continues his return to match fitness.
The visitors managed to hold out for over half an hour, but they were undone when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey blocked Van Persie's close-range shot and Arjen Robben followed up to bury the rebound. Wales were then hit on the break with 14 minutes to go. A superb ball from Wesley Sneijder released Robben and his cross was tucked away by Jeremain Lens.
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