The game started very evenly balanced, until
Nesta was injured in the 23rd minute.
Although Croatia pushed up and troubled Buffon
in the Italian goal, they failed to score and Italy slowly found their rhythm towards the
end of the first-half.
The Totti and Vieiri combination didn't cause
any real threats though and unless things change in the second half, Croatia must feel
they can get a result in Ibaraki; to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Half-time: Italy 0 -- Croatia
Vieri had a goal disallowed for offside, five
minutes after the restart, as Italy tried to up the tempo.
-- GOAL -- 1-0
On Italy's next serious attack, Christian Vieri netted his third goal of
the tournament.... heading in Christaino Doni's right wing cross, after approach work from
Totti -- 55 mins.
-- GOAL -- 1-1
After Vieri missed a chance to put Italy two goals up, Croatia countered with Robert Jarni
crossing for substitute Ivica Olic to head the goal and level the score
-- 73 mins.
Croatia continued to stretch Italy and had a
few chances to go in front in the next couple of minutes.
-- GOAL -- 1-2
And the renewed pressure paid off as Nico Kovac headed into the area for Milan
Rapajc to turn and float the ball over Buffon with his left foot -- 76 mins.
Three minutes from time, after concentrating
for a while, Francesco Totti curled a free-kick onto the inside of Croatia's left goal
post. Stipe Pletikosa was totally surprised as the bounced across his goal and could think
himself lucky that no-one was following up to poke it in.
With four minutes added on, Italy continued to
push up in search of a point at least and Filippo Inzaghi flicked in an equaliser.... that
was amazingly ruled offside.
France, Portugal, Argentina and now Italy have
all suffered defeats at the hands of supposedly lesser teams, to make the 2002 World Cup a
delight for fans of the underdog.