Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni put one over his compatriots on Tuesday as his side beat a largely-dominant Italy 2-0 in a friendly played in Belgium.
However, while the Italians wasted what few chances came their way, Ireland scored with both theirs through Keith Andrews in the 35th minute and then Simon Cox added a second on the stroke of fulltime.
Both Trapattoni and his Italian counterpart Cesare Prandelli opted to rest several of their first choice players after they won their respective Euro 2012 qualifiers at the weekend.
Trapattoni, one of the most successful club coaches of all time, but who failed to reproduce that in a four-year spell as Italy coach, was delighted with his side’s display.
“We showed a really good mental attitude,” the 72-year-old said. “We really wanted this win. It is just how I like to see my players perform. Italy had the majority of the possession, combined well, but my players showed the necessary discipline.”
“Football is not just about the ‘show,’ it is also and maybe even more so the achievement of ones goals,” added Trapattoni, who is one of only two coaches to win league titles in four different countries.
Prandelli for his part was disappointed by his side’s performance.
“My team took a step backwards this evening,” said Prandelli, who replaced Marcello Lippi after the Azzurri’s woeful defense of their world title last year when they went out in the group stage. “The players forgot one essential thing — in order for one’s individuality to shine you have to play as a team.”
“Today, my boys did quite the opposite. Each one of them tried to find the answer on his own and we saw what the result of that was,” added the 53-year-old.
The Italians went on the attack from the outset in a match played in what seemed like a rather strange venue, but which is home to a large Italian community.
Cheered on by 20,000 tifosi, Italy — captained by the ageing talent of Andrea Pirlo, one of the few survivors from their 2006 World Cup triumph — came at Ireland from everywhere, but only created their first serious chance in the 27th minute when Giampaolo Pazzini fired just past the far post.
Antonio Nocerino had an identical chance two minutes later, but he failed to improve on his teammate’s effort.
Italy paid for their profligacy when journeyman midfielder Andrews broke the deadlock with a great effort from 20m 10 minutes before halftime.
Italy were also hit hard by a storm that left the surface wet and greasy, impeding their more attractive and fluent passing game, while they also met a solid wall of Ireland defenders which proved impassable.
They were duly hit on another counterattack right at the death when Cox slotted home to give the Republic of Ireland victory.
Result of yesterday’s international friendly:
‧ China 2, North Korea 0