Italy cruise safely into last 16

Italy moved into the last 16 of the World Cup and sent the Czech Republic home after defeating their Group E rivals 2-0 on Thursday.

Marco Materazzi put Italy in front with a towering first-half header before fellow substitute Filippo Inzaghi finished a breakaway attack in the 87th minute to ensure the Azzurri finished top of the group.

Italy only needed a draw to advance and their task was made easier in first-half stoppage time when the Czech Republic’s Jan Polak was sent off for receiving a second yellow card.

The Czechs, who needed to win to progress, enjoyed spells of pressure, but when they did breach the Italian defence they found keeper Gianluigi Buffon in imperious form.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi praised Buffon’s contribution.

“This is a very good result for us and it is important for the team. We needed to have patience but overall we worked very well.

“I won’t single out any players but Buffon was very strong.”

Italy will now play in Kaiserslautern on Monday against the second-placed team in Brazil’s Group F. The final matches in that group were taking place later on Thursday.—AFP

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