Live Blog: Italy-Ghana

All right, we wrap up a rollicking day of live-blogging — a TRIPLEHEADER, as they sometimes say — with that time honored international rivalry: Italy vs. Ghana. What can we tell you about this game? Well, Roberto Benigni will most certainly not be playing.

Ghana's actually a little better than many would expect an African nation not named Cameroon to be, but they're still not favored in this game. The real question: What's the betting line in Italy for this one? Ask the players! (Sorry. We kid.)

Anyway, your live-blogger is Alex Churchill, and he is ready to rock. Chime in in the comments, and if you have any offline comments to make, or just questions for Mr. Churchill, email us and we'll pass 'em along. And enjoy!

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FULL TIME: The final whistle blows and sweaty shirts are replaced with other sweaty shirts (I would so not do that BTW). A hugely entertaining first half followed up by a disappointing 2H. But as they say, there is something about football being half based.

Man of the match: I'll go with Toni. But I do so with the bitter aftertaste of a Peroni in my mouth.

Now, I venture forth into the honking, whistle blowing Toronto streets, where I will find a Ghana supporter and exchange jerseys with them in solidarity.

Until tomorrow and Switzerland v France then.

92: Good chance for Ghana off a long ball up to Essien. Unfortunately, he now kicks with the gusto of a defeated man. He wallows in pity. I drink.

91: Ghana wins a cross on a long ball. It gets rifled into a wall of blue and then someone knocks someone else down in the mid field.

90: Into the three minutes of stoppage time we go.

88: Sub for Ghana, Guyan off, the aforementioned clever Mensah on. That makes me happy, if only in the way that the very mention of the name Will Shortz does.

87: Iaquinta takes a yellow for a pessimistic challenge. He then complains. Talk about unwilling to appreciate the gifts you are given.

86: I think the Ghanese are now playing 2 back. Essien gets a decent header opportunity. You know when you drink in the afternoon, how it makes everything better, but not really?

85: As my pint arrives, there is an Italian writing about on the field as though someone has called into question the morals of his mother and all is the same with the world. Sigh.


83: Disappointing for Ghana, but a goal given up on a sloppy clear (if it can be called that) by Koffour. Iaquinta takes advantage and that is really, really sad. I am now going to begin drinking

82: Now, it is ON bitches. The assembled crowd here cheer lustily the departure of Toni and the arrival of Del Piero. Now, all Totti has to do is haul Baggio out onto the field to be sainted.

80: Essien, finishing off a nice Ghanese move down the left side rifles one wide of Buffon.

78: ANOTHER piece of penalty worthy play in front of Buffon. Dive? Yes. Foul? Yes. Actually, on replay, only a maybe to the foul.


75: A BLATANT foul on some long haired Italian the name of whom escapes the "Italians" sitting around me, but the play is called offside. Lucky, lucky Ghanese. Which isn't, I would suspect, a sentence one reads a whole lot.

74: Italian defence winning the day here.

72: Some very dodgy activity right in front of Buffon. Not sure if Asamoah should have stayed down writhing after deRossi pile drove him but not sure how that's not a penalty shot.

71: Tentative mid field play makes Alex a dull boy.

69: Pimpong wins a corner for Ghana. And there is no reason not to give him one with a name like that. Also, he bears a passing resemblance to the long time Dutch international Edgar Davids. Or so my dad tells me.

68: Italy is offsides on a clear break and the people here no likie when Italy is offside. I hide behind my lap top.

67: Amoah goes off for the delightfully monikered Pimpong. I have now forgotten all about Kingston, he may be good, but it's not as much fun to say.

67: Kingston is my new hero. He is single handedly keeping this Ghana team in the game.

66: A yellow card given to Asamoah for a simply delightful tackle on an Italian attacker. It was just what he was hoping for.

64: Gilardino off, Iaquinta on.

63: Essien takes a rare Italian mid field cock up and fires it wide. But he does so in a way that indicates confidence in his abilities.

62: Camoranesi gets the yellow card his hair so richly deserves, leading to a free kick from well outside the area. Essien fires it right into the wall.

60: Ghana gives up yet another corner. No, sorry, they actually won one. And then threw it away. It seems to me that in Ghana, the young footballers tend to be so poor that they can't afford corners and thus have to score from open play only.

58: Comaronesi is causing havoc in the Ghanese midfield. And in the minds of hair dressers with any semblance of taste.

57: Toni gets good service from the right and heads it directly to Kingston, who my father thinks bears a passing resemblance to many other bald, black men.

56: Totti's down on the field here and is being spelled off by Camoranesi. It looked like Totti simply was trod upon.

53: Buffon seriously tested by Essien with a heavy looking ball from 30 yards. Not sure who it was. Does number 8 help?

50: Interception in the mid-field by Pirlo and another good chance by Gilardino and another GREAT save by Kingston. Great game by the Ankaraspor man. When it comes to keepers, Ankaraspor is Ankararich. Sorry. Things getting a little mucky in the mid field.

48: Toni (toni, toni) pushed to ground by Essien - who then tells him his ex-girlfriend is a ho. Little 3T joke there

46: First useful movement of the half by Italy, stopped by Kingston off a too-long deep ball.

Right off the bat, Essien causing the Italian full backs grief. A spikes high tackle there by a Ghanese who's name eludes me for the moment.

Shilla on, Pappoe off for Ghana. None for the team in the blue. And we're sychronizing the refs watches and we're off!

Ready to go with the 2H. Right about now, the Chef de Mission for each team is returning the gift they received at the start of the match for something a little more useful around the house.

HALF TIME of HALF TIME: So, with Italy NOT playing their "traditional", "defensive", "snore inducing" game and with the Ghanese attacking, attacking, attacking it is everything that makes the clash of styles at the Fuji Burger King Castro Convertables Astroglide Global Jug 2006 worth supporting its sponsoring products for.

HALF TIME The most exciting match so far. Puch counter punch. Punch counter punch. I'm off to chew on a few oranges and work on my tan and biceps. I feel as though after that, I'll fit in a little better here.

44:57 Another great chance from short range gives the Italians another corner and then they counter only to throw it away with a terrible cross as we get into extra time. Buffon takes a little jog... and the whistle goes.

43: Ghana giving Italy more than they deserve (not difficult, generally) on the offensive end with sloppy full back play and then counter attacking.

The Black Stars are giving more corners than Michael Schumacher. More corners than Michael Jackson's architect. More corners than Clarence Birdseye and Common combined. I should stop now.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAZZZZZZOOOOOOO! Pirlo rifles one past Kingston from just outside the area off a corner. I don't think there was a deflection. In my best hocke voice "Time of the Italy goal, 40 minutes."

38: An anemic looking Ghana corner leads to a puffball header to Buffone leads to an Italian rush to the inevitable Ghanese counter and then... they surrender another corner.

34: Another Italian free kick deflects right to Richard "funky" Kingston. Asamoah victimized in the midfield and smacks the ball playfully in response "Bad, naughty ball."

33: A Totti free kick is juuuuuust steered high by Richard Kingston and the subsequent corner juuuuust dribbles over the top.

30: And again Ghana and Essien rushing down the left side and causing a very big yacht somewhere to suffer a caviar stain on the broadloom. And now Pappoe a minute later! Off a broken play on the left, he is given space on the right and just goes over the net back on the far side. Great stuff!

I should apologize for saying "this match is on fire"

GOLDEN opportunity for Ghana on the counter attack. This match is on fire.

PS - yes, I know his name is Luca Toni. But it may as well be Lucatoni if you ask anyone here. He scored 36 in Serie A, and you don't have to ask anyone to find that out. They'll yell it at you.

26ish: Italy also has wood as Lucatoni fires one off the cross bar!

26ish: Exquisite pressure from Ghana. Essien currently giving Roman Abramovich a hard on.

24: Italy win their 256th corner of the match. Really, just ask the Italian FA.

23: Totti attempts a bicycle kick. Of course he does.

22: Another Italy corner, another golden opportunity wasted on the way to winning it. Somehow, that's a metaphor for post-war Italy.

Essien and Canavaro going head to head, and one would suppose toe to toe.

21: Ghana JUST offside on a long ball in showing lovely pace up front.

19: Lucatoni starts a lovely movement down the right side, but seems to stall once he gets to the net.

18: First good chance for Ghana. Nesta pulls a "hair of god" and heads it to safety.

I just heard Lippi refered to as "Marcello il Bello". Were he a little more cultured, he might be referred to as Marcello il Cello.

14:30 Free kick from a hand ball just outside the Ghana area. Roofed by de Rossi on a re-direction.

12:00 First sign of the cross of the match! Surprisingly, from a Black Star.

9:50 de Rossi sucks up a yellow card on Essien just outside the area, stopped by Buffone and... and... and.. the counter attack slides under Kingston and away for a corner. Marcello Lippi looks like he's going to cry. I so hope he begins smoking.

6:27 - Totti (?) wins a corner after a long run down the left side - Kingston and the Black Stars make a lame Totti corner into a second one! And now a third! Atrocious. This time, from the right side and it's roofed by some bald bloke.

Ghana controlling well - and crossing horribly. Both sides feeling each other out.

2:00 Totti probing in the area from the right side. Italians being loud in response. I've seen at least fifteen had gestures I can neither decipher nor repeat.

Surprise starter in goal for Ghana - Richard Kingston, who is put under a little pressure right off the K-O. From what I'm told, Kingston is creating quite the legend for himself in Turkey. Kind of like that guy in Midnight Express. Anyway - kick off!

And, to Italy goes a flag. And to Ghana goes... a flag. Disregard the last comment.

The exchanging of the gifts - the moment wherein we see just what sort of schwag the various countries are made of. Far more reflective of culture than the national anthem.

Ahh yes, the pageantry of the tunnel dance. A moment of silence for Roy Keane's retirement - the master:

Live blogging from the aptly named Bar Italia in Toronto's equally aptly named Little Italy it's Italy v Ghana at the Gillette McDonald's GM Card Ting Pokemon FIFA World Bowl 2006! Yes, I'm coming to you from the only place in the aforementioned Little Italy without a life-sized poster of Paolo Rossi in the window - and thus the only place safe for an England supporting Manga Cake like myself.

And speaking of St. Paolo, the questions swirling around this edition of the Azzuri are bringing to the gelato-addled minds of some in my immediate vicinity the great scandal tinged team of '82 that, in true Italian style rode the turmoil to victory on the backs of Vespas, blowing kisses to the ladies and saving the honour of the calico in the process. Totti in (and spitting), Nesta in, Gattuso out.

Hoping to have the Paul Newmanesque Marcello Lippi staring across the pitch after 90 minutes asking himself "who are those guys?" are the Portugal of Africa (despite being known as the Brazilians of Africa). The Black Stars have underachieved internationally relative to their success on the continent and many of them ply their trade in Italy including Roma's Kuffour; Cremonese's John Mensah (a clever defender one would assume) and Michael Essien - who plays at Chelsea, a team that I dislike, so I will throw towards them the epithet of being Italianate. So, in short, many of these players are familiar with one another.

So, it's the Black Stars and the black socks. Lippi is giving his players a variation on Dennis Hopper's "where Sicilians come from" speech from True Romance (c'mon, they invented Fascism - I'm allowed a little latitude) and Ghana is ready to show the world they belong - let's get it on.