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Italy beat France to reach last eight
Mike Collett | June 18, 2008 02:48 IST
Last Updated: June 18, 2008 03:38 IST
It was a nightmare of a match for France who lost Franck Ribery [Images] to a suspected broken leg and had Eric Abidal sent off before half-time as they were eliminated from the competition.
Italy made the breakthrough when Andrea Pirlo lashed home a 25th minute penalty after Abidal was red carded for hauling down striker Luca Toni as he prepared to shoot.
Daniele De Rossi made it 2-0 after 62 minutes when he smashed in a shot following a rehearsed free-kick routine with his drive taking a deflection off Thierry Henry [Images] to leave goalkeeper Gregory Coupet wrong-footed.
The match turned after only nine minutes when Ribery, France's inspirational playmayer, was seriously injured in a clumsy challenge on Gianluca Zambrotta.
He immediatly held his left leg in agony and was driven away on a medical cart with a suspected broken left leg.
France's problems got even worse when Pirlo scored from the penalty after Abidal's dismissal.
In a bid to redress the balance of his side, France coach Raymond Domenech, who had sent on Samir Nasri to replace Ribery after 10 minutes, then replaced Nasri after Abidal's dismissal and brought on defender Jean-Alain Boumsoung.
But the gap left by Ribery's absence allowed Italy to largely dominate in midfield and between them Pirlo, De Rossi, Gennaro Gattuso [Images] and Antonio Cassano created three good chances for Toni to score before halftime.
Fabio Grosso also went close when he thumped in a 43rd minute free kick which keeper Gregory Coupet's touched onto his right-hand post.
Pirlo and Gattuso were both booked and will miss Italy's quarter-final with Spain in Vienna on Sunday.
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008