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Montolivo blow to Azzurris

London: Italy’s World Cup plans were hit on Saturday when accomplished midfielder Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg during their penultimate warm-up game against Ireland at Craven Cottage which ended in a 0-0 draw.

The incident, following an accidental collision with Ireland defender Alex Pearce, overshadowed the rest of the match, which was a lively attacking affair, and left the Italy squad stunned by what had happened to their teammate.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said the whole squad was shocked and devastated by the injury to their captain.

The incident came after 10 minutes and Montolivo, having stood up to test his leg, went to ground. He was treated for more than five minutes before being carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital for an X-ray where it was confirmed he had suffered a fractured tibia.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters the whole squad was shocked and devastated by the injury to their captain.

"All our thoughts are with Riccardo and we will have to wait till tomorrow to make a rational assessment of the situation.

"We fly back to Florence tomorrow but he will fly back to Milan and undergo surgery.

"We will have to sit down and assess the condition of all the players in the squad. The impact of what happened affected everyone tonight.

"He is a key player, a reference point on and off the pitch with a great attitude. He did not deserve this and everyone is just totally shocked and upset."

Mexico beat Ecuador 3-1 in a friendly in Dallas but the win was overshadowed by a broken leg for Luis Montes that has ruled the midfielder out of the World Cup finals.

Just two minutes after the livewire Montes had put Mexico ahead, he and Segundo Castillo slid into a 50-50 challenge and it was quickly apparent the Mexican had suffered a serious injury.

In another friendly, Portugal, missing forward Cristiano Ronaldo because of a muscular pain in his left thigh, were held to a goalless draw by Greece.

In Rotterdam, Robin van Persie scored early to set the Netherlands on their way to victory over Ghana though a series of missed opportunities by Arjen Robben kept the score to 1-0.

In Rotterdam, Robin van Persie scored early to set the Netherlands on their way to victory over Ghana though a series of missed opportunities by Arjen Robben kept the score to 1-0.

It had threatened to be a runaway triumph for the Dutch, who like Ghana were playing their penultimate preparatory match before heading to the tournament in Brazil.