The Azzurri failed to break down a spirited Northern Ireland in Belfast, despite appearing to play the superior football. A lack of incisiveness in front of goal saw Cesare Prandelli’s men drop their first points of the European Championship qualifying campaign with a less than polished performance.
Emiliano Viviano – 6.5
Looked very assured with what he had to deal with, especially crosses, and made an important block with minutes left on the clock. Is softening the blow of Gianluigi Buffon’s injury-enforced absence. Ready.
Mattia Cassani – 6
Some good defensive work and covered a lot of ground on the right side. Effective going forward in the first half but failed to do the same in the second period as the Irish concentrated their attacks on the left flank through the lively Lafferty. Sufficient.
Giorgio Chiellini – 5.5
Yet again the Juventus centre back failed to offer any security at the heart of the defence with another poor effort, considering the quality of opponent. Was lucky to not give away a penalty in the first half and his ball distribution continues to be abysmal. Amateurish.
Leonardo Bonucci – 6
Slightly more level headed than his partner, but one glaring error in the first half gifted David Healey a free header, which fortunately went wide. In possession looked very comfortable but is suffering the poor form of Chiellini alongside him. Adequate.
Domenico Criscito – 6.5
Put any World Cup hangover to bed with a very tidy match in both attack and defence. Tried to press forward as often as he could and conceded little when tracking back to cover the left side. One well worked half chance in the first 45 minutes, which flashed across the goal. Confident.
Daniele De Rossi – 6
Italy has no better player at breaking up opponent attacks and covering defenders, but De Rossi is struggling with offering any kind of positive play. Too many misplaced passes for a player of his calibre. Frustrating.
Stefano Mauri – 6
Plenty of positive running from the Laziale, as he fitted in seamlessly alongside Pirlo and De Rossi. Two half chances at goal showed his eagerness to impress. A useful, if unspectacular, contribution. Willing.
Andrea Pirlo – 6
All of Italys attacks stem from the Azzurri captain. The ‘regista’ used every trick he knew to try and unlock the green padlock in front of him but was unable to find the winning pass. However, set pieces were not up to what we expect from the Milan midfield man as he wasted several corners. Average.
Simone Pepe – 5
Failed to make much of an impression going forward, nor was he able to offer much help to the midfield. Difficult to see what he brings to the national team that appears so crucial to firstly Lippi and now Prandelli. Sterile.
Antonio Cassano – 6
Not as decisive as in previous outings, but with the ball at his feet he puts opponents on the back foot. Attempted to make the breakthrough on both sides of the pitch but suffered from the sheer number of bodies the Irish placed behind the ball. Stifled.
Marco Borriello – 5.5
A very physical performance from the main point of attack but he failed with the best chance of the match as he shot straight at the keeper when through on goal. Plenty of movement to create space amongst the mass of defenders around him, but the miss will weigh heavy with fans. Wasteful.
Giampaolo Pazzini – 5.5
Replaced the tiring Borriello with 15 minutes left on the clock and had a great chance to break the deadlock, only to put his header across the area when only yards away from goal. Indecisive.
Claudio Marchisio – No Vote
Came on for Mauri on 80 minutes but was unable to make any impression in the few moments afforded to him.
Giuseppe Rossi – No Vote
Had only five minutes to impact on the game and almost did as he tried to steer Pazzini’s header into the goal but could only find the side netting. Maybe should have been introduced earlier.