Lippi takes 'all responsibility' after holders' humiliating exit

Slovakia 3 Italy 2

Never go back. If only Marcello Lippi had followed that maxim he would still be known as the suave mastermind who guided Italy to their fourth World Cup. Instead he will also be remembered as the man who oversaw their most disastrous finals for 36 years, when a certain Fabio Capello was playing for them.

Instead it is Slovakia, World Cup debutants, who head for a second round tie in Durban on Monday. Robert Vittek, who scored twice, said: "We've moved the limits of Slovak football. We couldn't have dreamt about this." True enough, but Slovakians are not complete novices. When Czechoslovakia won the European Championships in 1976, there were more Slovaks in the team than Czechs.

This is, nevertheless, a huge shock, the more so as Slovakia fully deserved to beat an Italian team who seemed in the grip of the same paralysis that suffocated England against Algeria.

"I take all responsibility, all responsibility for what happened," said Lippi. "If a team turns up at such an important game like tonight with terror in their heart and their legs, and is unable to express its ability, it's because the coach didn't train the team as he should."

In an attempt to revive the Azzurri, Lippi recalled Gennaro Gattuso and Antonio Di Natale. This meant the XI featured three of the team that lifted the trophy in Berlin four years ago: Gattuso, Gianluca Zambrotta and Fabio Cannavaro. On the bench, available for the first time following a calf injury, was another 2006 veteran Andrea Pirlo.

They began well enough, Di Natale releasing Vincenzo Iaquinta only for the latter to shoot wide, but seemed then to lose shape and belief. Slovakia gradually took control and were rewarded after 24 minutes. Daniele De Rossi unaccountably played a ball out of defence straight to Marek Hamsik. The Serie A-based playmaker fed Vittek who steered his shot inside the far post.

Italy's uncertainty was betrayed when captain Cannavaro committed two bad fouls in quick succession. Howard Webb booked him for the first, but opted for leniency after the second. The Englishman also cautioned Zdenko Strba, who will thus miss the second-round tie, and Vittek before the break. Slovakia reached that deservedly ahead, the abysmal nature of Italy's display underlined by their biggest threat coming from an opponent, Martin Skrtel, heading just over his own crossbar.

Lippi made another brace of changes at the break, withdrawing Gattuso, who had looked off the pace, and left-back Domenico Criscito. Within 10 minutes he had summoned Pirlo as well in an attempt to provide some accuracy and fluency to their appalling passing.

It worked, to an extent, and the champions did go close to an equaliser, substitute Fabio Quagliarella having a volley cleared off the line by Skrtel midway through the half. The Italians claimed the ball had crossed the line. Inconclusive television pictures suggested Darren Cann, the assistant referee, had probably made the right decision.

Six minutes later Italy failed to clear a set-piece and Vittek got ahead of Giorgio Chiellini to Hamsik's first-time cross. It seemed all over. Then came a rare moment of Italian quality. Quagliarella fed Iaquinta, received his back-heeled return and shot, Jan Mucha denied him but Di Natale followed up to score.

Quagliarella, Mucha and Juraj Kucha were embroiled in a fracas in the net, as the Italians tried to get the ball back. Webb calmly settled it with two more yellows. The drama continued as Quagliarella thought he had levelled, but Cann flagged him offside. It was another marginal, but probably correct, call.

Vladimir Weiss, the finals' youngest coach at the age of 45, brought on Kamil Kopunek. Within two minutes the substitute ran past Di Rossi, onto a throw-in, and lobbed Federico Marchetti.

All over? Not yet. Quagliarella chipped in a superb goal from 20 yards. Cue constant play-acting from "injured" Slovaks, and a 95th-minute chance for Pepe at the far post. He mis-kicked. Seconds later Lippi stormed down the tunnel, not even shaking Weiss's hand.

With France suffering a similarly ignominious exit this is the first time the finalists from the last World Cup have both departed so early. Italy, who even finished below New Zealand, last conceded three goals in a World Cup game in 1970, but that was a respectable loss, to Brazil in the final. This is humiliating.

Slovakia (4-4-2): Mucha; Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Zabavnik; Kucka, Strba, Hamsik, Stoch; Vittek (Sestek, 90), Jendrisek.

Italy (4-3-3): Marchetti; Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Criscito (Maggio, h/t); Gattuso (Quagliarella, h/t), De Rossi, Pepe; Iaquinta, Monolivo (Pirlo, 55), Di Natale.

Referee H Webb (England)

Man of the match Vittek

Attendance 53,412.


Antonello Bux - a 39-year-old restaurant manager in London, originally from Bari.

It was the worst performance I have ever seen since from Italy since I started watching them as a nine-year-old boy.

They were clueless, just throwing the ball up front, it was disgusting. They played like they didn’t want to win. It was the same set of players and manager which won the last World Cup and they seemed too satisfied, like they had already achieved what they wanted. Where was the passion? Where was the drive? I would not give any of the players a higher rating than a 6.

New players will have to come to into the side soon, and I have faith in new coach Cesare Prandelli (who will be replacing Lippi) to reinforce the squad ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers. He had done a great job with Fiorentina.

We have players we could have chosen like Antonio Cassano, Fabrizio Miccoli and Alberto Aquilani, all three have something to offer the team. Cassano gives us the speed and vision we have been desperately after.

I watched the game in the same pub I was in yesterday for the England match, it was packed yesterday but isolated today, in fact it was just me and a Slovakian fan there, he was pleased. I had to leave before the end of the game, it was that unwatchable.

Quite simply, this has been the worst Italian team for 45 years.

The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way


Florida mother launched a petition to ban the sale of the dolls

Arts and Entertainment

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?