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Italy draws 2-2 against Austria in friendly

Italy draws 2-2 against Austria in friendly

Marcello Lippi didn't get the start he wanted in his return as Italy coach Wednesday, as the world champions had to rally for a 2-2 draw against Austria in a friendly.
Austria jumped out to a surprising 2-0 lead in the first half, with Emanuel Pogatetz scoring in the 14th minute with a hard shot that caught Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon by surprise. Marc Janko then doubled the lead in the 39th when his shot ricocheted off an Italian defender and beat Buffon.
Alberto Gilardino, who had missed several good chances for Italy in the first half, finally connected in the 45th to make it 2-1 going into halftime. Italy were lucky to get the equalizer, as Austria's backup goalkeeper Ramazan Oezcan tried to punch away a cross in the 67th and instead knocked it in for an own-goal.
Lippi resigned as Italy's coach in 2006 after winning the World Cup and has spent the last two years working mainly as a TV analyst. However, he was brought back to the national team in June after Italy's lackluster performance in the European Championship cost Roberto Donadoni the coaching job. Lippi has said he refused the advances of 20 teams in the past two years that had sought his services.
"It was great to be back, though not so nice to start out down 2-0," Lippi said. "I'm happy with this result because we created many chances and my players looked for the win up to the final whistle."
One of Lippi's key changes from his predecessor was to call up Gilardino, who was overlooked by Donadoni for Euro 2008. The Fiorentina striker's goal was his 10th in 26 internationals.
Four of Italy's top defenders _ Fabio Cannavaro, Marco Materazzi, Giorgio Chiellini and Alessandro Gamberini _ were out with injuries.
Alessandro Del Piero played most of the game in attack with Gilardino and also failed to convert several good chances, including in the 54th when he shot high while teammate Alberto Aquilani waited alone in front of the goal for the pass that never came.
A largely Italian crowd cheered on the Azzurri at Nice's Stade du Ray.
The result was an improvement on the 2-0 loss to Iceland in Lippi's first game as Italy coach in 2004. Italy has not lost in its last 26 games under Lippi.
Lippi's first real test comes on Sept. 6 when Italy travels to play Cyprus in World Cup qualifying. The Azzurri host Georgia four days later.


Updated : 2021-04-13 21:51 GMT+08:00