Posts Tagged ‘Confederations Cup 2013’
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.
Brazil 3 (Fred 2, 47, Neymar 44)
Maracana, Rio de Janeiro. Temp. 23°C, wind 9 mph, mostly cloudy. Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho (Hernanes 88), Oscar, Fred (Jo 80), Hulk (Jadson 73), Neymar.
Spain: Casillas, Ramos, Arbeloa (Azpilicueta 46), Pique, Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Torres (Villa 59), Mata (Navas 52), Pedro.
Brazil impressively swept aside the challenge of Spain and were totally unfazed by the pressure of competing in a final in front of their own fans as they scored three goals without reply to retain the FIFA Confederations Cup, making it three wins in a row and their fourth triumph in the history of the tournament. Once again their star player, Neymar, was on song and they tormented the Spanish defence for ninety minutes whilst largely snuffing out any hint of a threat at the other end.
Nerves were settled early on as Brazil once again struck in the opening minutes. All three of their front line were involved in the move that led to Fred’s second minute strike, with Hulk crossing from the right for Neymar to knock it down to Fred and the Fluminense striker scooped it in. Brazil kept the pressure on and their fast start clearly rattled Spain, who struggled to cope with the speed and movement of the selecao attack. Both Arbeloa and ramos were booked before the half hour mark and just as Spain were looking forward to a chance to rest and regroup over half time, their task got much harder as Neymar fired in the second goal of the night.
The struggling Arbeloa was replaced with the more attacking Chelsea right-back Cesar Azpilicueta at the interval but he didn’t have time to make an impact before Fred effectively wrapped it up for Brazil with his second and their third on the game within two minutes of the restart. Spain looked to have been handed a route back into the game six minutes later when they were awarded a spot kick for Marcelo’s trip on Jesus Navas, but Sergio Ramos struck the penalty wide of the goal and any lingering hopes of a comeback were finally extinguished in the sixty eighth minute when centre-back Gerard Pique was dismissed for a foul on Neymar.
Jadson, Jo and Hernanes were introduced for Brazil late on as manager Luiz Felipe Scolari tried to give as many of his players as possible a chance to experience winning the final of a major international tournament before the real thing starts next summer. They saw out the game without difficulty to spark celebrations across the city and country and raise expectations sky high that they will repeat the success in the World Cup in twelve months’ time. The impressive nature of their win over the world champions has certainly quietened any of Scolari’s doubters and on this form his team can mount a real challenge for the World Cup. Spain have had a wake up call after a record breaking unbeaten run in competitive matches, but they have plenty of time to put their house in order before the main event and they will also still be strong contenders.
Brazil 2 (Fred 41, Paulinho 85)
Uruguay 1 (Cavani 48)
Mineirão, Belo Horizonte. Temp. 26°C, wind 6 mph, partly sunny. Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile)
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar (Hernanes 72), Fred, Hulk (Bernard 64), Neymar (Dante 90+1).
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Pereira M, Caceres, Godin, Rodriguez, Gonzalez (Gargano 83), Arevalo, Suarez, Forlan, Cavani.
Brazil qualified for the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup and will face either Italy or Spain at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Goals from Fred and Paulinho at the end of each half were enough to see of Uruguay, who replied through Cavani but missed a penalty in the first half. Uruguay will now face the losers of the other semi final in the third place match on Saturday.
Both teams were back to their strongest line ups with Paulinho returning to the midfield for Brazil and Uruguay bringing back the whole host of first team regulars who were rested for their final group game against Tahiti. There was an emotional applause just before kick off as the stadium remembered Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who passed away ten years ago today in a Confederations Cup semi final match against Colombia in Lyon.
The first dozen minutes passed uneventfully as neither team managed to find their rhythm or keep possession for a prolonged period of play. The first noteworthy action occurred in the thirteenth minute when Uruguay won a corner and David Luiz hauled down Uruguay captain Diego Lugano as the ball was played into the box. Diego Forlan stepped up to take the penalty and struck his shot low to the goalkeeper’s left but Julio Cesar dived the right way and pushed the ball around his post to the delight of the crowd and relief of his team mates. Immediately after that, Brazil produced their first meaningful attack culminating in a speculative shot from Oscar that sailed just wide.
The match continued in a similar, scrappy, vein with chances few and far between until Diego Forlan managed to get on to the end of a cross from the left and blaze a venomous shot just over the bar from the edge of the box in the thirtieth minute. It was the closest anyone had come to a goal in open play thus far. Full-back Marcelo was providing much of Brazil’s attacking threat with his forays down the left flank and he put a promising ball into the box towards Fred but the forward was beaten to the ball at the near post and couldn’t convert it. Uruguay goalkeeper Muslera wasn’t totally redundent in the first period, but his work was largely restricted to periodically plucking Brazilian crosses out of the air until five minutes from the interval when he was forced off his line to close down Neymar but could only deflect the striker’s shot into the path of Fred, who was left with a simple tap in to make it 1-0.
There was still time for a Luis Suarez chance before the interval, but the Liverpool forward didn’t connect properly with his shot and couldn’t trouble Julio Cesar. The one nil deficit at the break seemed a bit harsh on the Uruguayans as they had had the best chances and allowed Brazil to score with their only dangerous attack. Whatever they said at half time obviously had an effect because they were level within three minutes of the restart. It was a messy build up with the ball pinging around the Brazilian box, never under control and never properly cleared, until Cavani pounced and clinically dispatched it into the far corner with a low shot to silence the crowd.
The equaliser prompted a more exciting period of play with chances at both ends, for Oscar when Muslera fumbled a high ball and for Uruguay when an inviting Suarez cross was whipped away from the head of Forlan by a defender at the last moment. Hulk then fired in a stinging, swerving free kick from long range that Muslera could only punch away, and the same player was off target with an overhead kick a few minutes later. It was his last action of the match as he was replaced by local hero Bernard shortly after.
Uruguay were almost handed the lead in the sixty sixth minute when a Forlan free kick from the right was headed towards his own goal by Thiago Silva, but fortunately for the defender it flew just over the bar. Brazil immediately responded with a chance for Fred at the other end and then produced the best move of the match to set up Neymar, but his shot wasn’t strong enough to trouble Muslera. Spaces started to open up in the last quarter of an hour and chances came a bit more frequently as the prospect of an extra half hour started to loom. Forlan did well to set up Cavani for a sharp turn and shot that almost completed the turn around, but Brazil generally had more of the possession as the game wore on.
Their breakthrough came five minutes from full time when Paulinho outjumped Caceres at the far post to head a corner from Neymar past Muslera and make it 2-1. There was some late pressure from Uruguay in stoppage time and Muslera even came up for a couple of corners, but Brazil withstood and booked their place in Sunday’s final. Neymar lost his record of scoring in every game of the tournament but once again he was the most influential player on the pitch and created both goals. The only downside of his performance was the amount of time he spent rolling around on the pitch.
Uruguay 8 (Hernandez 2, 24, 45+1, 67 pen, Perez 27, Lodeiro 61, Suarez, 82, 90)
Arena Pernambuco, Recife. Temp. 25°C, wind 10 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Pedro Proença (Portugal)
Uruguay: Silva, Scotti, Pereira A, Coates, Aguirregaray, Perez, Eguren, Gargano, Lodeiro, Ramirez (Suarez 69), Hernandez.
Tahiti: Meriel, Ludivion, Tehau J, Vallar, Simon, Tehau L (Atani 71), Caroine, Aitamai (Lemaire 53), Hnanyine (Tihoni 88), Vahirua, Chong-Hue.
It was an action packed ninety minutes at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife as Uruguay put eight goals past the hapless Tahiti to qualify for the semi finals of the 2013 Confederations Cup as Group B runners up. As well as the eight goals, there were two red cards and two penalties as the Portuguese referee was kept busy throughout. Tahiti return home with no points and a minus twenty three goal difference, but they have won plenty of friends and will always cherish the memory of the goal they scored in their opening game against Nigeria.
Going through the action in chronological order, it started with the first goal of the night for Palermo striker Abel Hernandez in only the second minute. Hernandez had been handed the chance to lead the line as Uruguay manager Oscar Washington Tabarez rested his first choice striking triumvirate of Cavani, Forlan and Suarez, and he certainly grabbed his chance to impress. He scored his second in the twenty fourth minute and sealed his hat-trick on the stroke of half time to make it four nil, with Diego Perez having grabbed the third in the twenty seventh minute.
It should have been 5-0 five minutes after the restart, but veteran Nacional defender Andres Scotti, who was charged with taking a penalty, saw his spot kick saved by Tahiti goalkeeper Gilbert Meriel, much to the delight of the twenty two thousand crowd. Things got worse for the centre-back a minute later when he picked up his second yellow card of the match and was dismissed by referee Pedro Proença. However, Tahiti were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage before they two were reduced to ten men when their defender Teheivarii Ludivion was sent off for his second booking.
Then the floodgates opened again – firstly Botafogo’s Nicolas Lodeiro scored to finally make it five nil and six minutes later Uruguay were awarded a second penalty, which Abel Hernandez dispatched to make it six and score his own fourth goal of the game. Things got even worse for Tahiti when Luis Suarez came off the bench and the striker was soon set up by Lodeiro to make it seven nil before adding the eighth in the final minute. His second goal took him one clear of Diego Forlan as Uruguay’s all time top scorer. Uruguay will now play the hosts, Brazil, in the first semi final in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.
Spain 3 (Jordi Alba 3, 88, Torres 62)
Castelão, Fortaleza. Temp. 27°C, wind 8 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Joel Aguilar (El Salvador)
Spain: Valdes, Ramos, Arbeloa, Pique, Jordi Alba, Fabregas (Silva 54), Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Soldado (Torres 60), Pedro (Villa 75).
Nigeria: Enyeama, Echiejile, Ambrose, Omeruo (Egwuekwe 11), Oboabona, Obi Mikel, Mba (Ogu 63), Ogude, Ideye, Akpala (Gambo 71), Musa.
Vicente del Bosque’s all conquering Spain team expectedly beat Nigeria to win Group B at the 2013 Confederations Cup with three wins from three and Fernando Torres moved clear at the top of the scorers chart with his fifth of the tournament. Nigeria looked promising at times but ultimately they didn’t have enough to qualify for the semi finals and will be going home to concentrate on the final round of the African World Cup qualifiers to try to make sure they can return to Brazil next year and use the experience they have gained from this competition.
Spain got off to a dream start by taking the lead in only the third minute when Jordi Alba finished off a fine run with a confident finish past Enyeama in the Nigeria goal. If there’s one team in the world who you don’t want to be chasing the game against for almost ninety minutes on a hot day it’s Spain, for they are masters at keeping possession, and the Nigerians knew they were facing an uphill struggle from that point on. With Uruguay winning in the other group match, Nigeria needed a big win to have a hope of going through and to their credit they had a go, taking the game to Spain and creating some chances, the best of which was when a shot from Jon Obi Mikel hit the bar. However, Spain were always a threat themselves and Fabregas also hit woodwork at the other end as half time approached.
We reached the hour mark with the score still at 1-0 to Spain and del Bosque introduced Fernando Torres to freshen up his attack in a bid to kill off any hopes of a Nigerian revival. The Chelsea striker duly delivered within two minutes of coming off the bench as he headed a Pedro cross past Enyeama to double the lead. From then on the result was never in doubt and Alba wrapped up the scoring two minutes from time with his own second of the game. Spain, as Group B winners, will now face Group A runners up Italy in the second semi final on Thursday.
Mexico 2 (Hernandez 54, 66)
Japan 1 (Okazaki 86)
Mineirão, Belo Horizonte. Temp. 26°C, wind 7 mph, scattered clouds. Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
Mexico: Ochoa, Torres Nilo, Moreno, Mier, Reyes, Guardado (Salcido 71), Torrado, Zavala, dos Santos (Barrera 78), Hernandez, Jimenez (Aquino 90).
Japan: Kawashima, Kurihara, Konno, Nagatomo (Nakamura 77), Sakai H (Uchida 58), Endo, Hosogai, Okazaki, Honda, Maeda (Yoshida 65), Kagawa.
Mexico prevailed in the battle for third place in Group A at the 2013 Confederations Cup with a hard fought 2-1 win over Japan, who end up pointless at the bottom of the group despite having played some attractive attacking football at the tournament. Things wouldn’t have had to have gone very differently for the Japanese to have reached the semi finals alongside Brazil as they dominated periods of the games against both Italy and Mexico and were unlucky to lose out by the odd goal on both occasions. However, their finishing and lack of a top class centre forward let them down on this occasion, where they came up against a Mexico side containing the prolific Javier Hernandez, who notched up his thirty fourth and thirty fifth goals in fifty three appearances for his country.
The closest either team came to breaking the deadlock before the interval was a disallowed goal from Japan in the ninth minute when Okazaki deflected an Endo shot into the corner from near the penalty spot, but was in an offside position, and a bullet header from Andres Guardado in the fortieth minute that beat Kawashima but struck the post. Hernandez opened the scoring eight minutes into the second half when he timed his run perfectly to ghost in at the near post and get his head on the end of a cross from Guardado on the left wing. His close range header flew into the net before Kawashima had time to react and Mexico finally had their first goal in open play of the tournament.
The man they call Chicharito repeated the trick twelve minutes later to score an almost identical header from practically the same spot, but this time he lost his marker at the far post from a dos Santos corner on the right to make it 2-0 to Mexico, proving yet against what an accomplished goal poacher he is. His movement off the ball makes him almost impossible to mark and his finishing rarely lets him down. It’s just a shame for Mexico they they currently rely so heavily on him for goals. Japan pushed hard to get back into the game in the last quarter of the match but didn’t get a breakthrough until the last five minutes when Shinji Okazaki got his second of the tournament. Their challenge should have been killed off in injury time when Mexico got a penalty but this time Hernandez wasn’t so clinical and Kawashima parried his spot kick. The Mexican striker was first to the rebound but he blasted his shot against the bar from point blank range. Hernandez was denied his hat-trick, but Mexico hung on for the win.
Brazil 4 (Dante 45+1, Neymar 55, Fred 66, 89)
Italy 2 (Giaccherini 51, Chiellini 71)
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador. Temp. 27°C, wind 6 mph, scattered clouds. Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz (Dante 34), Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Hernanes, Oscar, Fred, Hulk (Fernando 76), Neymar (Bernard 69).
Italy: Buffon, Bonucci, Chiellini, Abate (Maggio 30), De Sciglio, Aquilani, Montolivo (Giaccherini 26), Marchisio, Candreva, Diamanti (El Shaarawy 72), Balotelli.
Brazil beat Italy 4-2 in an exciting final Group A game in Salvador to secure first place in the group, meaning that Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team will probably now avoid Spain in the semi finals. It was a scrappy first half, but the goals started to flow in the second period as both teams went for the win and Brazil eventually got the better of their opponents thanks to some fine attacking play and party due to some uncharacteristic sloppy goalkeeping from Gianluigi Buffon.
The first half was a scrappy stop-start affair littered with mistimed tackles in which there were four bookings and three players were forced off injured. Neither team managed to settle into their rhythm and there were no goals until stoppage time when a free kick from the Brazilian left found its way through to substitute Dante, who slotted home from beyond the far post. Dante, who had replaced the injured David Luiz just after the half hour mark, recorded his first goal for his country and it was a popular strike with the locals in the stadium as he hails from Salvador.
Italy found their way back into the game with a classic route one goal in the sixth minute of the second half when Buffon hit a long clearance upfield. It was headed on to Balotelli, who flicked it into space behind the Brazilian backline with an impudent backheel which set substitute Giaccherini free down the right. He took the ball into the box and made no mistake with a driven shot into the far side of the net before the covering defenders could get back to close him down.
However, Italy were only on level terms for four minutes as Neymar won and scored a free kick to keep up his record of having scored in every game so far in this tournament. It was a bit harsh on Italy as the striker appeared to run into Maggio’s leg rather than being tripped, but the free kick was struck spectacularly in to the far corner past a static Buffon, who ought to have done better. Italy came close with a free kick of their own from Balotelli, who shot powerfully towards the top corner from way out, but Julio Cesar was equal to it and a few minutes later Brazil broke to make it 3-1 through Fred.
There was much controversy surrounding Italy’s second of the game in the seventy first minute when Chiellini scored following Candreva’s corner. The referee blew for an apparent penalty for a foul on Balotelli at the same time as Chiellini hit his shot towards the far post but when the ball ended up in the back of the net, the Uzbek official changed his mind and awarded the goal rather than the spot kick. There hadn’t really been enough time between the whistle and goal for anyone to react and stop playing, but by the letter of the law it should have been a penalty to the Italians and protesting Brazilian players surrounded the referee, but in vain.
Italy came close to levelling the score with ten minutes remaining when Maggio got his head on the end of another Candreva corner from the right and sent the ball crashing into the crossbar with Julio Cesar well beaten. Having survived that scare, Brazil saw out the last few minutes and wrapped it up at the death when left back Marcelo broke through and tested Buffon with a low shot to the near post that the ageing goalkeeper could only push back into the path of the advancing Fred, who made no mistake with a simple tap in.
Uruguay 2 (Lugano 19, Forlan 51)
Nigeria 1 (Obi Mikel 37)
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador. Temp. 27°C, wind 6 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Pereira M, Caceres, Godin, Rodriguez (Pereira A. 88), Gonzalez, Arevalo, Suarez (Coates 83), Forlan, Cavani.
Nigeria: Enyeama, Echiejile, Ambrose, Omeruo, Oboabona, Obi Mikel, Ogu (Mba 66), Ogude, Oduamadi (Babatunde 45), Ideye (Akpala 73), Musa.
Oscar Washington Tabarez’ Uruguay team picked up their first points in the 2013 Confederations Cup with a 2-1 win over Nigeria in Salvador last night and gave themselves a great chance of progressing to the semi finals as long as they beat Tahiti in their final Group B fixture. Nigeria and Uruguay are now level on three points in the group standings, but the Nigerians face a tough final match against Spain and will probably need to win to have any chance of progressing in this tournament.
Malaga central defender Diego Lugano gave Uruguay the lead in the nineteenth minute with a scrappy goal following a corner, but the same player was unable to prevent Nigeria’s equaliser eighteen minutes later when he was beaten by Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel who made no mistake with his subsequent shot. It remained 1-1 until the interval but Nigeria were forced to start the second half without their hat-trick hero from the Tahiti match as Varese striker Nnamdi Oduamadi was forced off with an injury and replaced by Michel Babatunde.
Early in the second period Diego Forlan, who was winning his one hundredth cap for Uruguay at the age of thirty four, picked up a pass from Cavani and expertly shot past Enyeama in the Nigeria goal to make it 2-1 to Uruguay. La Celeste controlled much of the rest of the game and frustrated any attempts by Nigeria to get back on to level terms. They replaced striker Luis Suarez with his Liverpool team mate Sebastian Coates as they shut up shot late on in the match. The final round of matches in the group is on Sunday.
Spain 10 (Torres 5, 33, 57, 78, Silva 31, 89, Villa 39, 49, 64, Mata 66)
Maracana, Rio de Janeiro. Temp. 25°C, wind 7 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria)
Spain: Reina, Ramos (Navas 46), Albiol, Monreal, Azpilicueta, Silva, Martinez, Cazorla (Iniesta 76), Torres, Villa, Mata (Fabregas 69).
Tahiti: Roche, Ludivon, Tehau J, Vallar, Lemaire (Vero 74), Bourebare (Tehau L 69), Tehau A (Tehau T), Caroine, Aitamai, Vahirua, Chong-Hue.
Spain effortlessly brushed aside Tahiti to record their second win in the 2013 Confederations Cup and register the highest winning margin in the competition history. It was a real mismatch and it went according to script for the Spanish although it took some time for the floodgates to open. In the end, Tahiti were completely outclassed but playing against the world champions in front of a large crowd at the Maracana was an experience never to forget.
Tahiti began as they did in their first match against Nigeria by falling behind in the fifth minute. Fernando Torres was the scorer with an assist by his Chelsea team mate Juan Mata. However, just as everyone was expecting the Pacific islanders to crumble, the deluge of goals failed to materialise and Tahiti managed twenty five minutes without conceding a goal. Spain’s attempts to boost their goal difference were repeatedly thwarted until David Silva got the second in the thirty first minute.
From two nil onwards the goals did start to come thick and fast. Fernando Torres got his second of the game two minutes later and David Villa opened his personal account for the season in the thirty ninth minute to make it four nil at the interval. He doubled his tally four minutes after the restart and the goals continued to come at regular intervals throughout the second half. Fernando Torres completed his hat-trick in the fifty seventh minute and David Villa followed suit seven minutes later following an unfortunate fumble by goalkeeper Mikael Roche. Juan Mata got in on the scoring act to make it 8-0 just two minutes later.
Tahiti did well to contain the scoring for a period following that goal and even survived a penalty after Aitamai handled a cross on the edge of the box. Torres struck the spot kick against the bar, but he wasn’t to be denied for long as he soon found himself one on one against the goalkeeper and kept his nerve to notch up his fourth of the night. It fell to David Silva to round off the rout in the final minute and bring the score up to double figures.
Nothing is mathematically certain in Group B yet, but it will be a surprise if Spain fail to qualify now that they have a plus eleven goal difference. They would need to lose very heavily to Nigeria in their final match and Uruguay to beat both Nigeria and Tahiti to be knocked out before the semi finals. Uruguay play Nigeria in the other Group B game in Salvador tonight.
Italy 4 (De Rossi 41, Uchida o.g. 50, Balotelli pen. 52, Giovinco 86)
Japan 3 (Honda pen. 21, Kagawa 33, Okazaki 69)
Arena Pernambuco, Recife. Temp. 23°C, wind 2 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Diego Abal (Argentina)
Italy: Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Sciglio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Aquilani (Giovinco 30), Montolivo, Maggio (Abate 59), Giaccherini (Marchisio 68), Balotelli.
Japan: Kawashima, Konno, Uchida (Sakai H. 73), Yoshida, Nagatomo, Endo, Hasebe (Nakamura 90+1), Okazaki, Honda, Maeda (Havenaar 79), Kagawa.
It was a topsy turvy game between Italy and Japan in front of over forty thousand fans in Recife with Japan forging ahead before Italy pegged them back and took a lead of their own only for Japan to strike back and just when it looked set to end all square the Italians grabbed a dramatic late winner. The result puts Italy into the semi finals along with hosts Brazil and eliminates the Japanese as well as Mexico.
Japan were handed the chance to take the lead in the twentieth minute Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon brought down Shinji Okazaki inside the box. Buffon escaped with a yellow card, but he wasn’t able to save the resulting penalty from CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke Honda. Manchester United’s midfield maestro Shinji Kagawa doubled the lead some thirteen minutes later with a well executed left-foot volley from the edge of the box to leave the Italians up against it. However, they got themselves into the game shortly before half time through a set piece. Andrea Pirlo’s corner was converted by Daniele De Rossi with a powerful header.
Italy started the second half strongly and turned the game around with two goals in as many minutes. Firstly Atsuto Uchida put through his own net when failing to deal with a cross from Giaccherini and then Italy won a penalty of their own when Makoto Hasebe handled inside the area. Mario Balotelli once again showed his reliability from the spot in sending the goalkeeper the wrong way for his second goal of the tournament and to complete the turn around by giving Italy a 3-2 lead.
The game then quietened down for a while as Japan’s defence restored order following a tempestuous few minutes and they began to push forwards again in search of an equaliser. It eventually came in the sixty ninth minute when a free kick from Gamba Osaka’s Yasuhito Endo was headed in by Shinji Okazaki. Japan pushed hard for the winner in the final twenty minutes and went close on several occasions, hitting the woodwork twice as Italy started to rock once again, but in typical fashion it was the Italians who snatched the late winner against the run of play when Giovinco got on to the end of a cross from Marchisio to make it 4-3. There was still time for Japan to rally and they had a goal ruled out for offside in the final moments before the final whistle gave the relieved looking Italians their three points.
Six points from their opening two games puts Italy level with Brazil at the top of Group A so the only thing riding on their meeting in the final group game is who finishes in first and second place. Japan and Mexico are now both out of the competition with zero points from their opening games so their final match is now a dead rubber to decide who comes bottom of the group.