Italy have secured a berth in the quarter-finals of Nigeria 2009 following a 2-1 win over USA in Kaduna. The Azzurrini edge into their first quarter-final appearance since 1987, while also avenging previous losses against USA in 1991 and 2005.
Italy started brightly, creating two good openings for Federico Carraro inside the opening eight minutes. Carraro firstly received the ball inside the opposition penalty area, but his shot on the turn with his left foot was wide of the mark. Then Marco Fossati was the provider with a chipped ball into the danger area, but Carraro's volley with his left foot cleared the crossbar.
Italy's dominance in midfield was telling in the opening half-hour, with attacking midfielder Fossati invariably the creative force leaving the Americans to try their luck on the counter. However the contest could have taken a different direction on 17 minutes as Italian defender Federico Mannini was penalised for handball, only to soon earn a reprieve when Jack McInerney's penalty was saved by back-up goalkeeper Francesco Bardi, who had come in for the injured Mattia Perin.
The North Americans were duly punished for their profligacy 12 minutes later, with Pietro Iemmello winning a crucial aerial duel to send the ball into the path of the onrushing Giacomo Beretta, with the AC Milan striker easily placing his shot past exposed USA goalkeeper Earl Edwards for a deserved lead.
The US came out of the half-time interval with renewed enthusiasm, and four minutes after the break, Luis Gil dribbled past two defenders to bring McInerney into action, but the unmarked striker could only hit the crossbar from eight meters.
The contest had taken a completely different complexion with USA full of energy and self-confidence, and they were soon duly rewarded. Nick Palodichuk got on the end of a corner to out-jump the Italian defence and place his header into the net for the equaliser.
The Italians, though, quickly found the perfect response with an impressive goal that proved to be the winner. A quick pass from substitute Stephan El Shaarawi found Pietro Iemmello who had one touch, turned and unleashed a powerful shot from just outside the penalty area to leave Edwards without a chance.
Following the goal the Italians managed to successfully take the pace out of the game, limiting openings on goal for the increasingly desperate Stars and Stripes. Victor Chavez had a glorious chance to draw level with four minutes remaining when his pace on the right flank left defenders in his wake, only for the substitute to squirm his effort wide of both Bardi and also the Italian shotstoppers' far post.
Gil saw an effort well saved by Bardi following a chaotic scramble in the Italian penalty area in the dying minutes. The match then concluded in disappointing circumstances for the Americans with Juan Agudelo dismissed after appearing to elbow Italy's Felice Natalino.