Italy 0 Rep of Ireland 0: Montolivo injury overshadows warm-up game
Italy 0 Rep of Ireland 0: Riccardo Montolivo's leg injury leaves midfielder as serious doubt for the World Cup
Riccardo Montolivo’s serious-looking leg injury marred Italy’s World Cup warm-up game against Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage.
The 29-year-old AC Milan captain suffered the problem early in the first half in a challenge with Alex Pearce and told pitchside medical staff and team-mates “it’s broken” before being carried off on a stretcher.
The midfielder was sent to a nearby London hospital for an X-ray on his left tibia bone, leaving him a serious doubt for the tournament in Brazil ahead of Italy’s Group D opener against England on 14 June.
The game itself was a relatively entertaining spectacle despite the scoreline.
Claudio Marchisio had the first real chance of the game for an under-strength Italy as his 25-yard strike forced David Forde into a smart save.
Some neat play from Giuseppe Rossi in central midfield then set up Matteo Darmian but the full-back’s effort dribbled harmlessly wide.
The game was then stopped for more than five minutes as medical staff attended to Montolivo, before the midfielder was eventually carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Alberto Aquilani.
The apparently serious nature of the injury seemed to distract Italy and the Republic’s first opening of note came in the 27th minute, when David Meyler’s speculative effort was pushed over the crossbar by Salvatore Sirigu.
Anthony Pilkinton then danced through the Italian defence only to see his final effort blocked, before Shane Long headed straight at Sirigu.
Italy had the ball in the net 11 minutes after half-time but Ciro Immobile was adjudged to have been offside before he tapped home from close range at the far post.
Ireland came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 78th minute but Stephen Quinn’s effort rebounded off the crossbar and was parried away to safety by Sirigu.
The offside flag then spared Alessio Cerci’s blushes as he skewed his effort horribly wide with the goal at his mercy.