Italy 2 (Astori 24, Diamanti 73)
Uruguay 2 (Cavani 58, 78)
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador. Temp. 28°C, wind 8 mph, scattered clouds. Referee: Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria)
Italy: Buffon, Chiellini, Astori (Bonucci 96), De Sciglio, De Rossi (Aquilani 70), Montolivo, Maggio, Candreva, Gilardino, Diamanti (Giaccherini 83), El Shaarawy.
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Pereira M (Pereira A 81), Caceres, Godin, Rodriguez (Gonzalez 56), Gargano, Arevalo (Perez 107), Suarez, Forlan, Cavani.
Cesare Prandelli’s Italy team bounced back from the heartbreak of their penalty shoot out semi final defeat to Spain on Thursday night to beat Uruguay by the same method and secure the consolation of third place at the 2013 Confederations Cup. Instead it’s the Uruguayans who are now cursing their luck from twelve yards as failure from that distance has now cost them dear in successive matches following Diego Forlan’s failed spot kick in their semi final against Brazil. The same player missed Uruguay’s first effort in the shoot out in Salvador to put the Italians in the ascendancy and the Azzurri scored three of their four kicks to win 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Italy looked the stronger of the two teams, despite having had a day’s less rest than Uruguay following the semi finals and their 120 minutes of attrition in the heat against Spain. They took the lead in the twenty fourth minute when a Diamanti free-kick from the right hit the far post and rolled back along the goal line to the opportunistic Cagliari defender Davide Astori who reacted first to tap it into the net. The eagerly anticipated new goal line technology hadn’t been needed thus far in the tournament so FIFA took the opportunity to use it to show that the ball hadn’t crossed the line before Astori touched it, this proving that it was his goal rather than Diamanti’s.
The Italians held onto their lead until thirteen minutes into the second half when Napoli’s Edinson Cavani beat Gianluigi Buffon with a curling shot to make it one apiece. Uruguay enjoyed their best period of the game but they were undone by another free-kick from Alessandro Diamanti. This time the Bologna striker didn’t need help from anyone as his seventy third minute shot flew straight past Muslera int he Uruguay goal to make it 2-1. Cavani responded with a free kick of his own five minutes later to notch up his second goal in the game and third of the tournament, making it 2-2 and forcing extra time.
Everyone expected the effects of tiredness to set in for the Italians as the game wore on, especially when they were reduced to ten men by Riccardo Montolivo’s dismissal in the 110th minute but they dug in and withstood the pressure from Suarez, Cavani, Forlan and co. Buffon was the hero in the subsequent shoot out, saving from Forlan, Caceres and Gargano as Aquilani, El Shaarawy and Giaccherini scored for Italy to wrap things up despite Mattia De Sciglio missing their third kick. All in all, Italy look in decent shape for next summer but they will have to tighten up their defence and hope that Marion Balotelli stays fit if they are to win back the World Cup. Uruguay have an ageing group of players that may still be able to produce the goods in twelve months time but they definitely need to think about rejuvenating the side in some areas. Firstly it’s back to the business of actually securing their qualification for the finals for both teams.