Italy boosted their hopes of a place in the last 16 with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Cairo International Stadium. Michelangelo Arbertazzi and Silvano Raggio scored the vital goals as the valiant Soca Warriors succumbed to a defeat that leaves their Egypt 2009 ambtions hanging by a thread.
The Italians were on top for the bulk of the first half and, with 16 minutes played, it took a heroic goal-line clearance from Jake Thomson to deny them an opener. Andrea Mazzarani was already wheeling away in celebration in anticipation of his superbly struck volley hitting the net when Thomson leapt up on the line to head the ball clear.
Playmaker Mazzarani has emerged as arguably the Italians' most influential player in Egypt and, 12 minutes later, he went close again with an audacious effort from a 35-yard free-kick that had the T&T keeper - who was expecting a cross - scrambling back to tip over.
Yet although the Europeans had the edge, the Caribbean hopefuls weren't without their moments at the other end, and Robert Primus thought he had opened the scoring midway through the first half only to have his celebrations curtailed by the assistant referee's flag. Thing were about to get worse for T&T too because, with six minutes of the first half remaining, they fell behind, Michelangelo Arbertazzi stealing in unmarked on Mazzarani's corner and directing a downward header past the helpless Glenroy Samuel.
Zoran Vranes' side refused to buckle, however, and came agonisingly close to equalising six minutes into the second half when Jamael Gay fired in a shot that had the keeper beaten but rebounded back off the underside of the crossbar. Nevertheless, their perseverance was rewarded 11 minutes later when Matteo Gentile's disastrous attempted clearance sent the ball straight to the feet of Juma Clarence. Hardly able to believe his luck, the T&T forward took full advantage, side-stepping the hapless Gentile before rifling a low right-foot shot into the net from 14 yards.
It looked like we had a upset on our hands at this stage, but Gli Azzurrini refused to accept their fate and duly snatched the points with 12 minutes remaining. Mattia Mustacchio was the goal's architect with a superb run and cross, and Silvano Raggio obliged with a finish of the highest quality, unleashing a terrific left-foot shot to send the ball flashing into the net from the edge of the box.