Italy prepares for All Blacks with edgy win

Updated 11 November 2012
0

Italy prepares for All Blacks with edgy win

BRESCIA, Italy: Italy warmed up for the visit of two rugby heavyweights in the coming weeks with an unconvincing 28-23 win over a feisty Tonga side here yesterday.
With the All Blacks up next for Italy in Rome next week and Australia a week later, Azzurri coach Jacques Brunel came into the first of three autumn internationals claiming the pressure was off the Azzurri.
Having won the last two of their three fixtures against Tonga, Italy’s starting 15 contained a mix of youth and experience with Tomasso Iannone making his full debut and a number of Italy regulars not making their appearance until the second half.
Tonga, meanwhile, came to perform and did so in a dominant first half which saw the hosts pull back in front only thanks to a late Leonardo Ghiraldini try that was converted by Kris Burton.
Tonga started strongly and took a third-minute lead when Fangatapu ‘Apikotoa sent a penalty between the posts, however Italy replied almost immediately when Lorenzo Cittadini pushed over for their opening try in the sixth minute.
Tonga dominated an Italian line-out just outside their own 22 but from an attempted clearance the visitors gave up possession and Cittadini bundled the ball over the line.
Looking comfortable and more confident in their passing game, Tonga forced their way into Italy’s 22 several times, and were rewarded for their efforts.
’Apikotoa kicked a penalty 10 minutes into the game but Burton restored the hosts’ lead when he landed a penalty three minutes later.
Tonga’s big break came when Italy captain Sergio Parisse was shown a yellow card in the 23rd minute for holding up play.
’Apikotoa kicked the penalty to give them a one-point lead and although Burton restored Italy’s advantage with a penalty in the 27th minute Tonga were soon back in front with their opening try.
Italy had dominated the scrum but gave up possession, allowing Sione Piukala to carry the ball deep into territory where Italy’s defense had to be at their best to repel the red tide.
As Tonga pushed forward they won a penalty, but kicked out for a line-out. Eventually, the ball found its way to Alisona Taumalolo deep on the left and he burst toward the corner flag to squeeze the ball in at the corner to put Tonga 11-14 ahead.
’Apikotoa converted from a tight angle near the 22 line to add two points, but Tonga’s lead did not last long.
As half-time approached the Azzurri moved up a gear and were rewarded after a determined push which saw Leonardo Ghiraldini cross over to level the scores. Burton handed Italy a two-point lead with the boot to stop the clock at 18-16.
Italy looked more organized and enjoyed better possession in the second half, but failed to finish several promising moves and Tonga proved a menace throughout.
A Burton penalty goal took the hosts’ lead to 21-16 in the 52nd minute, and on the hour mark both sides made a series of substitutions.
Martin Castrogiovanni’s arrival made an almost immediate impact for Italy and the hosts extended their lead with a penalty try on 63 minutes.
Burton converted to take Italy to 28 points, but a defiant Tonga scored a try through Vainikolo after a good run on the left brought the scores to 28-23 after ‘Akipotoa had converted with the boot.


Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 to win Champions League

Real Madrid's players celebrate after their Welsh forward Gareth Bale scored the the 3-1 during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (AFP / Sergei Supoinsky)
Updated 8 min 37 sec ago
0

Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 to win Champions League

  • adrid is the first team to achieve that feat since Bayern Munich in 1976. This is their fourth title in five years, and their 13th overall.
  • Jurgen Klopp’s and Liverpool’s own evening was marred by the loss of a distraught Mohamed Salah to injury in the first half, the Egyptian coming off half an hour in having damaged his shoulder.

KIEV, Ukraine: Gareth Bale’s eye-catching scissor-kick helped Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League title on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over a Liverpool side thwarted by a pair of goalkeeping blunders and Mohamed Salah being forced off injured.

Bale’s jaw-dropping overhead kick put Real 2-1 up moments after his introduction, following a dramatic start to the second half in which Karim Benzema gave Real the lead as a result of a Loris Karius howler.

Sadio Mane had briefly restored parity, but Bale put Real in front again and then made it 3-1 late on with a long-range strike that the unfortunate Karius could only punch into the net.

Jurgen Klopp’s and Liverpool’s own evening was marred by the loss of a distraught Mohamed Salah to injury in the first half, the Egyptian coming off half an hour in having damaged his shoulder.

This was not to be Salah’s night, with Real allowing Zinedine Zidane to become the first coach ever to win the Champions League three years in a row.

Madrid is the first team to achieve that feat since Bayern Munich in 1976. This is their fourth title in five years, and their 13th overall.

Cristiano Ronaldo has now won five in his great career, but even he could not argue that this was Bale’s evening.

The Welshman had been tipped to feature in the Real starting line-up but in the end was left out for Isco — just as he had been in the final win over Juventus last year — before making an emphatic impact as a substitute.

For Liverpool, this game will be remembered for the disaster that befell goalkeeper Karius in the second half, and for Salah’s tears as he departed the pitch at the NSC Olympiyskyi.

The Egyptian hurt his left shoulder as he went down in a challenge with Sergio Ramos in the 25th minute. Five minutes later he made way for Adam Lallana.

His presence at the World Cup could now be in doubt, as could that of Dani Carvajal — the Real right-back came off with a hamstring injury before the interval.

Those injuries temporarily took the sting out of the game after an enthralling start, with Liverpool on top.

It had been uncomfortable for Real, but after Salah departed, they sensed their chance. They even had the ball in the net in the 43rd minute, only to be denied by a marginal offside call.

Ronaldo’s header from Isco’s cross was parried by Karius, and Benzema turned in the loose ball, but the Frenchman had come from a fraction ahead of the last defender and the flag came up.

If that was a let-off for Liverpool, they were their own worst enemies at the start of the second half.

Isco struck the bar after Lallana diverted the ball into his path, before Benzema opened the scoring in the 51st minute.

It was a moment of unbelievable carelessness from Karius, who attempted to roll the ball out to the nearest red shirt only for Benzema to stick out a leg and send it trickling into the net.

Klopp’s side really could have let their heads drop, and yet they were soon back level, Mane turning the ball in after Dejan Lovren headed down James Milner’s corner.

But their renewed hope was crushed upon the introduction of Bale.

The Welshman had been on the field barely two minutes when he met Marcelo’s cross from the left with an improbable leap, back to goal, 15 yards out, to send an overhead kick on his left foot arcing over Karius and in.

Such a strike deserved to be the winner, although it was his long-range shot that beat the embarrassed Karius in the 83rd minute that made sure of the victory.

Mane hit the post for Liverpool in between Bale’s strikes, but they will have to wait a while yet before winning their sixth European Cup.