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2010 FIFA World Cup: arrivederci Italia!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kamil Kopúnek's late goal against Italy helped propel Slovakia into the round of 16
Image: Stefan Heinisch (Flickr).

Slovakia eliminated defending champions Italy from the World Cup. First round groups E and F were decided on Thursday: Japan, Paraguay and the Netherlands progress alongside Slovakia.

When a team finishes third or fourth in a group, they are on their way home. After the elimination of France, runners-up in 2006, it was the turn of the reigning champions. Slovakia met Italy in their first World Cup finals as an independent country.

After 81 minutes, the Azzuri (Italy) were down by two goals, both struck by Róbert Vittek, when they got one back. They were denied a chance to equalize by a rebound from a Slovak knee on the goal line.

Their next goal was disallowed as offside. The Slovaks strengthened their lead when a gross positioning error by Italy led to a goal from a corner. Italy scored their second goal in the closing moments of the game, but it wasn't enough, and the Azzuri were out of the tournament.

For the fourth time in history, the reigning world champion was eliminated in the first round. The previous occasions were Italy in 1950, Brazil in 1966 and France in 2002.

Also on Thursday, Japan achieved a surprise 3 – 1 defeat of Denmark. This, along with their victory over Cameroon on June 14, secured their qualification. Paraguay stamped their ticket for the round of sixteen in a nil–nil draw with New Zealand's All Whites. The draw gave New Zealand a point to take them ahead of Italy, finishing Group F in third place. The All Whites leave the tournament undefeated, recalling Cameroon's elimination in 1982 after three draws, pipped by Italy on goals scored. The Netherlands beat Cameroon, securing Group E's first place.

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Results

Group E

Jun 24
Cameroon 1 - 2 Netherlands Stadium: Green Point Stadium, Le Cap
Attendance: 63,000
Referee: Pablo Pozo
  25' Nkoulou

  65' Eto'o
  81' Mbia

Report (BBC)   17' Kuyt

  36' Van Persie
  64' Van der Vaart
  69' Van Bronckhorst
  84' Huntelaar



Jun 24
Denmark 1 - 3 Japan Stadium: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Attendance: 27,967
Referee: Jérôme Damon
  29' Kröldrup

  48' Poulsen
  66' Bendtner
  81' Tomasson

Report (FIFA.com)   12' Endo

  17' Honda
  26' Nagatomo
  30' Endo
  87' Okazaki



Group F

Jun 24
Slovakia 3 - 2 Italy Stadium: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Attendance: 53,412
Referee: Howard Melton Webb
  17' Strba

  24' Vittek
  39' Vittek
  73' Vittek
  50' Pekarik
  89' Kopunek
  82' Mucha

Report (FIFA.com)   30' Cannavaro

  67' Chiellini
  81' Di Natale
  76' Pepe
  83' Quagliarella
  90+2' Quagliarella



Jun 24
Paraguay 0 - 0 New Zealand Stadium: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Attendance: 34,850
Referee: Yuichi Nishimura
  10' Caceres

  41' Santa Cruz

Report (FIFA.com)   56' Nelsen


Sources