Italy began their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Ghana.
Goals from Pirlo and Iaquinta were enough to secure the points for Marcello Lippi’s side, and out them on course for qualification, while Ghana now face an uphill battle if they are to reach the last 16.
Lippi began the match with an attacking formation, fielding Alberto Gilardino up front alongside Luca Toni, with Francesco Totti playing just behind the two strikers.
Ghana began the match under intense pressure with Italy forcing a series of early corners. The pressure almost paid on 11 minutes when Toni just failed to reach a cross with his outstretched boot and the ball ran to Gilardino who was denied at the near post by Kingston.
But it wasn’t all one way traffic and Ghana began to look threatening as the half progressed with Appiah at the heart of all their good work. Muntari blazed over from a sweeping move that covered the length of the pitch.
Midway through the half, Luca Toni came close to breaking the deadlock with a fierce volley from the edge of the area that cannoned off the bar to safety. At the other end Amoah should have done better when he burst into the penalty area but he hurried his shot and failed to trouble Buffon. Moments later Gyan pushed his shot just wide as Ghana showed they were not going to be intimidated in their first ever World Cup match.
Pappoe had the best chance of the half for Ghan when was found unmarked on the far post but he was unable to control his shot and blazed over from eight yards.
In a thrilling game Totti saw his long range effort tipped over by Kingston. From the resulting corner Cannavaro’s header just cleared the bar.
Pirlo opened the scoring from a short corner. Totti knocked the ball to the unmarked Milan midfielder and he had time and space to pick his spot from twenty yards for a magnificent goal.
Grosso came close to adding a second on the stroke of half-time when he beat the offside trap but his shot was blocked by Kingston.
Gilardino should have scored early in the second half when he was found in space by a precise Totti pass, but the Milan striker shot straight at Kingston.
Essien brought a smart save from Buffon when he volleyed from twenty yards as Ghana looked to up the tempo after the break.
Totti, who had grown in the influence throughout the match, went down off after a heavy challenge from Pantsil, raising fears that he had suffered a serious injury. However, although he was replaced by Camoranesi, the Roma playmaker was able to walk off the pitch.
Totti’s withdrawal coincided with a scrappy phase in the game with both teams giving the ball away on a regular basis.
The mediocrity was eventually interrupted midway through the half when de Rossi fed Perrotta whose right-footed effort was well saved by Kingston.
Ghana had a good shout for a penalty when was Gyan appeared to be dragged to the ground but the referee remain unmoved.
With Ghana pressing for an equaliser Italy hit them on the break. The ball was passed forward by Pirlo but intercepted by Kuffour who underhit his back pass into the path of the Iaquinta. The substitute had no trouble rounding the keeper and stroking the ball into the empty net.
Over the course of 90 minutes Italy were comfortable winners, but Ghan can feel relatively pleased with their efforts on their World Cup debut.
Italy: Buffon, Zaccardo, Nesta, Cannavaro, Grosso, Totti, Perrotta, Pirlo, De Rossi, Toni, Gilardino.
Subs used: De Rossi 10, Camoranesi 57 (for Totti), Iaquinta 64 (for Gilardino), Del Piero 82 (for Toni).
Bookings: Camoranesi 62, Iaquinta 88.
Ghana: Kingston, Pantsil, Kuffour, Mensah, Pappoe, Muntari, Essien, Appiah, Eric Addo, Gyan, Amoah. Subs: Otto Addo, Adjei, Ahmed, Boateng, Dramani, Mohamed, Owu, Pimpong, Quaye, Sarpei, Shilla, Tachie-Mensah.
Subs used: Shilla 46 (for Pappoe), Pimpong 68 for (Amoah).
Bookings: Muntari 41, Gyan 65
Referee: Carlos Eugenio Simon (Brazil)
Italy: Pirlo 40, Iaquinta 84.