AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze scored an own-goal as Italy beat Georgia 2-0 in a Group 8 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier.
Italy started with five present and three former Juventus players in their side, but it was one from Milan who proved decisive in a disastrous manner. The Georgia captain fluffed an attempted clearance into his own net into hand the country where he plies his club trade a welcome boost in their hopes of reaching South Africa.
Italy stay top of Group 8 with a game in hand over Republic of Ireland, while Georgia remain bottom. In a scrappy first period there were little more than half chances created with the first going to Vincenzo Iaquinta who had been played in behind the defence only to lose his footing.
Giuseppe Rossi then picked out Mauro Camoranesi in the area but the diminutive Juventus winger could not keep his header down. Iaquinta then tried to release Villarreal's Rossi but goalkeeper Giorgi Lomaia charged from his line to hack the ball clear before the American-born striker could reach it.
Georgia posed almost no threat while Italy also struggled to trouble Lomaia as Giorgio Chiellini headed an Andrea Pirlo corner wide. Genoa left-back Domenico Criscito, one of the former Juve players, waltzed into the area late in the first half before going down but the referee waved away any penalty appeals. Criscito, making only his second appearance and first in a competitive match, seemed to have lost the ball and went to ground rather easily under minimal contact.
Georgia started the second half brightly, creating a couple of nervous moments in the Italy defence. Sampdoria midfielder Angelo Palombo, deputising for the suspended Daniele De Rossi, played a hopeful ball forward in search of Iaquinta which found its way into the top corner of the net, leaving Lomaia wrong-footed on 56 minutes.
Moments later, Italy's substitutes Gaetano D'Agostino and Fabio Quagliarella combined with the latter shooting just wide of the far post. However, on 67 minutes Kaladze was unfortunate as Criscito crossed into the box looking for Iaquinta and the Milan defender shanked his right foot clearance past a bewildered Lomaia.
Criscito almost made it a second own goal five minutes from time as his shank forced Gianluigi Buffon into a diving one-handed save. Italy could well have increased their lead as they hit the post three times within a second deep into injury time.
Quagliarella's close range header hit the upright, came off the diving Lomaia and back onto the upright before running across goal, where Iaquinta smacked it onto the outside of the post and behind for a goal kick.