World Cup - Ireland and Italy draw in Craven Cottage friendly

International friendly, Craven Cottage - Italy 0 Republic of Ireland 0.

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World Cup - Ireland and Italy draw in Craven Cottage friendly
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Ireland's Anthony Pilkington (13) takes a free kick during their international friendly football match against Italy at Craven Cottage (Reuters)

Italy and the Republic of Ireland played out a goalless draw in Saturday night's international friendly at Craven Cottage.

The sides shared 30 shots on goal in an entertaining match in London, but Italy manager Cesare Prandelli will be left rueing an injury to midfielder Riccardo Montolivo, who will miss the World Cup after suffering a broken leg from an Alex Pearce tackle.

His replacement Alberto Aquilani only lasted for half an hour himself, before coming off with a head injury after a clash of heads with Stephen Ward.

Italy's Giuseppe Rossi seemed sharp as he looked to play his way into Prandelli's 23-man squad for Brazil after a season ruined by a knee injury, and Torino striker Ciro Immobile had a couple of chances in the first half that were snuffed out by David Forde.

Ireland goalkeeper Forde's best save was in the fifth minute, flying across his goal to tip over a 35-yard effort from Claudio Marchisio.

His counterpart in the Italian goal, Salvatore Sirigu, also had to be sharp to keep out a 21st-minute Anthony Pilkington free-kick and a Shane Long header 11 minutes later.

The best chance of the second half came with 12 minutes left on the clock, but Ireland substitute Stephen Quinn hit the bar from point-blank range after getting on the end of a James McClean cross, then Aiden McGeady saw his follow-up shot saved by Sirigu.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATISTICS

KEY MOMENTS:

5' - FIRST HALF-CHANCE: Immobile seems to be the point of the attack with Rossi in the withdrawn role. Claudio Marchisio then breaks and shoots from 35 yards but Forde does well to tip over.

8' - MONTOLIVO IN TROUBLE: Alex Pearce leaves the leg in on Montolivo and this could be a problem for the Italy captain.

21' - IRELAND'S FIRST CHANCE: Pilkington's dipped free-kick is saved well by Sirigu.

33' - SIRIGU SAVES AGAIN: McGeady skips past Paletta to the byline and his cross to Long at the far post is perfect, but Sirigu does well to punch the header clear.

49' - IRELAND PRESS AGAIN: Hoolahan nicks the ball off Motta and sets up Long, but Sirigu does well to save to his left. Pilkington then has a snapshot wide.

65' - CHANCE WASTED: Cassano's wall pass sets up Marchisio but the Juventus midfielder shoots weakly at Forde.

78' - WOODWORK: Quinn hits the bar from McClean's low cross from the left, then Sirigu saves McGeady's follow-up effort. Chance of the game so far.

TALKING POINT

Are Italy regretting their insistence on playing Ireland? Italy were keen to face Ireland in this friendly, as Martin O'Neill's side play a similar game to their first World Cup opponents England. But was it a risk - Ireland were never going to hold back, even in a seemingly meaningless end-of-season friendly. And so it transpired - Riccardo Montolivo will miss the World Cup after breaking his leg.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Matteo Darmian, Italy - Torino full back Matteo Darmian was a constant threat down the flanks for Italy, giving Prandelli's side a wide option when play narrowed in midfield.

PLAYER RATINGS

ITALY: Sirigu 6; Darmian 8, Paletta 6, Bonucci 7, De Sciglio 7; Veratti 7, Motta 7, Marchisio 6, Montolivo 6; Rossi 7, Immobile 5. Subs: Aquilani 6, Cassano 7, Cerci 6, De Rossi 6, Abate 6, Parolo 6.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Forde 7; Coleman 7, O’Shea 6, Pearce 6, Ward 6; McGeady 6, Hoolahan 7, Meyler 6, Pilkington 7, Hendrick 6; Long 6. Subs: McClean 7, Green 6, Cox 6, Quinn 6.

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