If somebody 20 years ago would have suggested that the Faroe Islands were ever going to play qualification matches against Italy or the world champions, people would have laughed their pants off. – And neither would anybody have believed that the world champions would have to fight to get a narrow 2-1 win. But that's exactly what happened on Tórsvøllur Stadium on Saturday.
But of course it was Italy who dominated the game.
After only 3 minutes, Filippo Inzaghi gave a foretaste of what was to come. As always, he was hovering on either side of the off side-line, waiting for Andrea Pirlo's through-ball, but this time Inzaghi could only hit the side-netting from a narrow angle.
Four minutes later, it was again Pirlo who started the move with a pass to Alessandro Del Piero on the left wing; he cuts into the penalty area and crosses the ball to the far post where Aimo Diana volleys it in the back of a defender and behind for a corner. The following corner was in the end headed over by Del Piero.
But after 12 minutes, the amateurs from the Faroe Islands couldn't hold off the Italian world champions anymore. Again it was Pirlo who instigated the attack when he played the long ball behind the Faroese defence where Inzaghi (who looked to be 20 cm off side) took it down inside the penalty area and held off the defender to finally sneak it past goalkeeper Jákup Mikkelsen.
Italy went close again a couple of minutes later when Del Piero fired his shot into the goalkeeper's chest, and Tommaso Rocchi should have done better when he placed the rebound over the goal.
On 24 minutes Inzaghi was close to his second goal when the marker in front of him slipped, which left Inzaghi with a free diving header just outside the goal area, but it went just wide of the upright.
The minute after, the Faroes appealed for a penalty when Marco Materazzi used an arm to drag/pull/push/hinder Rógvi Jacobsen, but the referee wasn't impressed.
On 34 minutes Del Piero curled a free kick narrowly wide of the post.
The first half ended 1-0 to Italy, which must be considered a very good half-time result for the Faroe Islands. The Italians seemed quite tame, and their attacks were much more sporadic compared to many other top teams that have played the Faroes and where the Faroes have been constantly under pressure. The Faroes also had quite much of the possession in midfield, although they as such created no scoring opportunity in the first half.
However, the second half was only 3 minutes long, when Italy doubled their lead with Inzaghi's second goal of the night. Pirlo on the center of the Faroese half played the ball to Massimo Oddo on the right, who again played it forward to Diana close to the byline and he crossed the ball in front of goal where the Faroese defenders had forgotten to mark Inzaghi who unhindered headed the ball into the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Pirlo was very close to making it 3-0 with a direct free kick, but Faroese goalkeeper Jákup Mikkslesen pushed the shot on to the post, before it was cleared to safety.
After 66 minutes the Italians felt assured of their victory and substituted central defender Materazzi with Andrea Barzagli. The Italians now mostly just tried to keep possession and didn't create much forward. The Faroe Islands seized the opportunity and started getting closer to the Italian goal.
On the half hour mark, Jón Rói Jacobsen went close with a header after a corner, but the ball went just over the crossbar.
And then, after 76 minutes, it happened! – The Faroes defended against an Italian attack. Faroese left back Marni Djurhuus wins the ball in the penalty area and heads it to Christian Høgni Jacobsen just outside the penalty area. He then plays it to Rógvi Jacobsen in center of field, who passes it on to Símun Samuelsen on the right who again finds Atli Danielsen on the wing who puts a perfect cross into the Italian penalty area where Rógvi Jacobsen rises above the Italian defender and heads the ball powerfully downwards into the goal with no chance for the world's best goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saving it.
See the Faroese goal at the end of the video below:
But the Italian also had chances after this. On 87 minutes, Del Piero was completely free in front of goal after an assist from Pirlo, but this just wasn't Del Piero's night, as he placed his shot wide of goal.
But then, in added time, the Faroe Islands almost produced a sensational equalizer, when a ball fell to Christian Lamhauge Holse in the Italian penalty area, and he hammered it goalwards, but Buffon saved it at the near post. It wasn't far from a famous draw…
However, Italy had one more scoring opportunity, but again Del Piero blasted the ball over the crossbar from a free position in front of goal.
For the Faroe Islands, this narrow defeat to the reigning world champions Italy will be used as a confidence-booster ahead of Wednesday's home-match against Scotland on Svangaskarð Stadium, where the Scots have drawn twice in succession. The Scottish team hates that stadium which has been haunting them since the 1-1 draw in 1999 and the 2-2 draw in 2002. So will they get their revenge now or will the Faroe Islands yet again produce an upset against Scotland?