Italy 2 (Pirlo 27, Balotelli 78)
Mexico 1 (Hernandez pen 34)
Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 25°C, clear and calm. Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile)
Mexico: Corona, Rodriguez, Moreno, Flores, Aquino (Mier 53), Guardado, Torrado, Salcido, Zavala (Jimenez 86), dos Santos, Hernandez.
Italy: Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, Abate, De Sciglio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo, Marchisio (Cerci 68), Giaccherini (Aquilani 88), Balotelli (Gilardino 86).
Italy got their 2013 Confederations Cup campaign off to a winning start at the Maracana, beating Mexico by two goals to one with Pirlo and Balotelli on the scoresheet and Javier Hernandez replying for the Mexicans. It was an entertaining game with plenty of chances at both ends as Mexico ended their recent hoodoo in front of goal but saw an end to their run of clean sheets.
Italy took the lead courtesy of a majestic free kick from veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo in the twenty seventh minute on the night of his one hundredth cap for his country. The strike was up there with some of the very best from his illustrious career and he left Mexican goalkeeper Corona with no chance as he curled it over the wall and in to the top left hand corner of the goal. Italy‘s lead didn’t last for long, however, as Barzagli clumsily gave away a penalty in the thirty fourth minute when he dallied in possession and allowed dos Santos to steal the ball before tripping the Mexican striker in the box. Barzagli was fortunate not to receive a red card from the Chilean referee. Javier Hernandez sent Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way from the penalty spot to make it 1-1.
Both teams had chances in the second forty five minutes and the officiating continued to be lenient as either side could have been reduced to ten men for some mistimed tackling. Italy always seemed the most likely to make the breakthrough and the golden chance finally fell to Mario Balotelli in the seventy eighth minute from a flick on by Giaccherini. The Milan forward was first to the ball amidst a cluster of defenders and smashed his finish past Corona to make it 2-1 to the Italians and earn three points that make them joint leaders with Brazil after the first round of matches in Group A.