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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 18, 2007

Italy proud but annoyed to help French

MILAN, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Italy reproduced some of their World Cup winning form to battle past Scotland in the driving rain and partisan atmosphere of Glasgow on Saturday.

Christian Panucci's late header secured a 2-1 victory which sent Italy and France to Euro 2008 after a tricky campaign.

For combative midfielder Gennaro Gattuso the only downside was helping rivals France qualify too.

Gattuso told reporters: 'I am proud of reaching qualification with this national team. But it annoys because I know we have also helped France qualify.

'Domenech always has to say something, he doesn't deserve to go through really. Now I hope we will play them again in the Euros and give them a lesson.'

Captain Fabio Cannavaro told reporters: 'It was an objective that was too important. We couldn't miss out. We have played as world champions, which we are.'

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni came under pressure for many of his side's performances, especially the 1-1 home draw with Lithuania and a 3-1 defeat in France in September last year which had all the hallmarks of a World Cup hangover.

An unconvincing 2-1 win in the Faroes in June and August's 3-1 friendly loss in Hungary were also criticised by the media.

Former AC Milan midfielder Donadoni, who had limited managerial experience at Serie A's Livorno, struggled to emerge from Marcello Lippi's shadow and often tinkered with the team.

His decision to axe Alessandro del Piero, 33, and Filippo Inzaghi, 34, after September's 0-0 home draw with France raised eyebrows but has ultimately paid dividends and the two famous strikers may now never play for the Azzurri again.

Donadoni put his faith in forward Antonio Di Natale, who had hardly made a huge impression at Udinese, but the 30-year-old made a difference with his tricky runs and natural ability to play on the left unlike the slowing Del Piero.

Defender Andrea Barzagli was seen by many as a lightweight who would struggle to fill in for injured Marco Materazzi.

However, Donadoni's faith in the Palermo player was rewarded by a string of superb displays, including on Saturday's slippery turf where he outshone defensive partner Cannavaro.

France coach Raymond Domenech was banned for one game for accusing Italy of bribing a referee of an under-21 qualifying match for the 2000 Olympics. He predicted a draw on Saturday and said Italy had 'proved me wrong for once'.