Italy consolidated their position atop of Group 8 in European Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with a 2-0 win over Montenegro.

Antonio Di Natale fell awkwardly on seven minutes, trying to change direction, and immediately signalled to the bench that he could not continue with what looked to be a twisted knee. But the world champions were in front just four minutes later when, after a handball, Andrea Pirlo cooly chipped the resulting penalty straight down the middle of the goal.

"The most disappointing thing about this evening is the injury to Di Natale, he has a terrible feeling in his knee," lamented Lippi. "We started well with attention to detail and good concentration and then we had this gift with the handball. Other than this gift we didn't do much else in the first half.

There were many positives for us, while the only negative was the Di Natale injury.

Marcello Lippi

"But we played much better in the second half and came close to scoring several more goals before getting the second. There were many positives for us, while the only negative was the Di Natale injury."

Chances were at a premium in the first 45 minutes and Jovetic had the only shot on target from open play on 29 minutes, but Gianluigi Buffon got down smartly to his right to save.

Italy had a great break five minutes into the second half, but Simone Pepe dallied when his Udinese team-mate Fabio Quagliarella was free and eventually teed up Vincenzo Iaquinta, who got his sights all wrong and screwed his shot wide.

Buffon then came to the visitors' rescue on 67 minutes with a brilliant one-handed save from Radomir Dalovic's point-blank poke from Branko Boskovic's cross.

Moments later, goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic, who once played at Lecce, spread himself well to deny Italy substitute Giampaolo Pazzini when he was put clean through by Daniele De Rossi.  On 74 minutes, two substitutes combined to clinch the victory for Italy as Pepe squared for Pazzini to head home powerfully from eight yards following a counter-attack.

Montenegro coach Zoran Filipovic had few complaints. "We didn't have any luck in the decisive moments," he said. "We started well compared to the match in Lecce (where Italy won 2-1). We played well in midfield but the penalty took the wind out of our sails.

"In the second half we played more attacking but against the world champions it's difficult to get a result. We needed more intelligence in attack but they played on the counter-attack and they're the kings of that."