Weather Forecast for Saturday    Dutch Driver Nyck de Vries Wins 1st Round of Diriyah Formula E-Prix 2022    Okaz tops Forbes list of most visited news outlets in MENA    Formula E one of key highlights in Diriyah calendar: Inzerillo    Morocco to reopen airspace from Feb. 7    UAE restores flights to five African countries    Share of e-payments reaches 57% in 2021, exceeding FSDP target    New COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia stay above 4,000-mark    A record 9 million need food assistance in northern Ethiopia    Arab Coalition: Saada prison was not targeted, facts will be provided    UNICEF providing aid for children caught up in Syria prison siege    8 facts you need to know about Saudi Arabia's Founding Day    Formula E racing champions at Diriyah Gate to kick off season opener    Saudi Arabia take step closer to World Cup 2022    Al-Attiyah leads after opening super special stage of Oman Rally    Crown Prince to attend 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony    Arab Parliament Condemns Bombing of Baghdad Airport As Threat to Stability of Iraq    UK Condemns Houthi Attack on UAE    Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Receives Phone call From His Nepalese Counterpart    Global stocks mixed    KSrelief Distributes 728 Winter Bags in Marib Governorate, Yemen    KSrelief Performs 104 Surgeries within Voluntary Medical Campaign to Combat Blindness in Chad    Secretary General of Palestinian National Commission for Education Praises Saudi Support for Palestinian Educational, Cultural and Scientific Sectors    Stellar speaker line-up at Leap conference in Riyadh    Tata Group takes over India's loss-making national carrier    Saudi Stock Exchange Main Index Ends Trading Lower at 12,179 Points    'Orange is the New Black' actress Kathryn Kates dead at 73    RCU launches direct flights from Paris to AlUla    Saudi Stock Market Index Ends High At 12,182 Points    Public Investment Fund Launches "Savvy Gaming Group"    Diriyah E-Prix 2-Time Champion Sam Bird Sets His Sight on More Triumph in 2022 Diriyah E-Prix    Royal Commission in Yanbu Achieves Arab Award for Operation and Maintenance    Sir Elton John postpones US shows after positive Covid-19 test    Bollywood's Shilpa Shetty cleared of obscenity over Richard Gere kiss    Taylor Swift slams Damon Albarn over songwriting comments    Omani National Football Team Arrives in Jeddah to Meet Saudi National Team    Eighth Season of ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to kick off in Diriyah    Riyadh's Qualitative Events Enrich its Winter, Attract World Attention    SFDA: Fat is a Source of Energy and Its Abundance is Linked to Chronic Diseases    Reflections on celebration of Christmas    Royal Commission for AlUla to Hold Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo    Saudi Arabia's Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Organizes a Dance Theatrical Show for Children    Saudi Arabia rebuffs UN resolution on 'sexual orientation'    Kabir Khan eyes on joint Indian – Saudi film projects    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers in Arafat Holy Site    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Pirlo sets the pace in final quarterfinal match
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 26 - 06 - 2012

KIEV, Ukraine – For 120 minutes, Andrea Pirlo mesmerized England with his unrivaled passing skills, single-handedly controlling the pace of a European Championship quarterfinal match with a uniquely personal rhythm.
Then at a decisive moment in Sunday's penalty shootout, with the adrenaline pumping furiously through the veins of all those involved, Pirlo again set the rhythm, slowing down his spot kick so much that he made goalkeeper Joe Hart look like a fumbling fool. That's why they call him the midfield maestro.
In an Italy squad filled with skillful players, its playmaker is quite possibly the most skillful of them all.
At 33, Pirlo has proved time and again that he is still in his prime. He led Juventus to an undefeated Serie A season and the Italian title last month, a year after AC Milan gave up on him.
In all, Pirlo hasn't lost a Serie A match since Dec. 18, 2010, having also gone the second half of the 2010-11 season undefeated with Milan. With him in charge, Italy is also undefeated in competitive matches over the past two years — having compiled 10 wins and four draws since its first-round exit from the 2010 World Cup.
Against England on Sunday, Pirlo's expertise was on display from start to finish. In the 25th minute, his long vertical pass set up Mario Balotelli with only the goalkeeper to beat, although the 21-year-old striker couldn't take advantage.
In the 41st, he found Antonio Cassano deep inside the area, which also almost led to a goal from Balotelli.
Then in the 52nd, Pirlo took his own crack at the target, producing a difficult save, but Balotelli and Riccardo Montolivo couldn't take advantage of the ensuing rebounds.
Still – after scores more of his perfectly executed shorter passes – the lasting image of Pirlo from this match came midway through the shootout. Italy was trailing 2-1 after Montolivo had missed and England striker Wayne Rooney had put his team ahead.
Pirlo stepped up to the spot and kicked a shot so soft that it floated in after Hart had already leaped and hit the ground. Italians call such a delicate chip shot a “cucchiaio,” or spoon. Elsewhere, it's known as a “Panenka,” after Antonin Panenka's pioneering spot kick for Czechoslovakia decided the 1976 European Championship final against West Germany.
“It surprised me,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. “It was brilliant.”
Francesco Totti used the “cucchiaio” with a similar kick in Italy's shootout win over the Netherlands in the semifinals of Euro 2000.
“I saw the goalkeeper was really energized, so that's why I kicked it like that. It was easier that way,” said Pirlo, never one to express himself with too many words. “From that moment on the English were under pressure.”
In fact, England failed to convert its next two penalties. First, Ashley Young banged a shot off the crossbar, then Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon smothered Ashley Cole's effort to set up the winning strike from Alessandro Diamanti.
“The sort of, cool, calculated way that Pirlo had the confidence and chipped the goalkeeper is something you either have as a player or you don't,” England coach Roy Hodgson said. “There is no amount of training or coaching that can teach a player that.”
Hodgson knows Pirlo from when the pair were both at Inter Milan in 1999 — Hodgson as caretaker coach and Pirlo as a budding talent. Before Sunday's match, they were seen embracing as the squads arrived at the stadium.
Daniele De Rossi knows Pirlo even better. They are Italy's two most experienced midfielders, and two of just four remaining members of the squad that won the 2006 World Cup — along with Buffon and defender Andrea Barzagli.
“If I have to choose one lasting image of the match, I would say Pirlo's penalty,” said De Rossi, who had two excellent scoring chances, hitting the post once.
“I haven't seen a shot as crazy as that since the times of Totti,” added De Rossi, who plays at Roma with Totti — who retired from the national team years ago.
In the semifinals on Thursday, Italy faces Germany, just like at the 2006 World Cup, when Pirlo's pass set up a goal in extra time for Fabio Grosso that led to a 2-0 win. Six years later, Pirlo's passes are still perfect — and his timing is impeccable. — AP


Clic here to read the story from its source.