Press Esc to close

Brilliant Balotelli, Pirlo steal the show

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 17, 2013, Reuters: 0:53 IST

Confederations Cup: Italy notch up 2-1 win over Mexico; Spain cruise past Uruguay

 Andrea Pirlo, center, is celebrated by his teammates Mario Balotelli, left, and Giorgio Chiellini after scoring the opening goal during the soccer Confederations Cup group A match between Mexico and Italy at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 16, 2013. (AP Photo)
Mario Balotelli scored the winner and Andrea Pirlo, capping a majestic 100th international appearance by scoring with a 30-metre free kick, provided the inspiration as Italy beat Mexico 2-1 in their opening Confederations Cup match on Sunday.

Pirlo’s goal was entirely worthy of the hallowed Maracana, which provided the perfect stage as he became the fifth Italian to reach a century of full internationals.
The 34-year-old brought the fickle and notoriously difficult-to-please Maracana crowd to its feet as he curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner in the 27th minute from distance.

The crowd chanted Pirlo’s name before and after the goal, the rarest honour for a foreign player on a stage previously graced by the likes of Garrincha, Pele, Zico and Romario.

“I don’t have words to describe Pirlo, he’s an example to everyone,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters.

Balotelli’s goal was more about power as he latched on to Emanuele Giaccherini’s flicked pass, barged past defender Francisco Rodriguez and fired the ball past Jose Corona with 12 minutes to go. Javier Hernandez had replied for Mexico with a penalty seven minutes after Pirlo's masterpiece.

Balotelli, whose notorious temper had been bubbling under the surface for most of the second half, took his shirt off in celebration, earning a yellow card and a reprimand from his coach. “He wanted to take his shirt off and show his muscles, but all the yellow cards count,” said Prandelli, who has previously suspended Balotelli for indiscipline with former club Manchester City. “But he played well and didn’t let anyone get to him. He was attentive for the whole game and has shown strength of character.” The defeat heaped more pressure on Mexico’s under-fire coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, whose team have been held to draws at home by Costa Rica, Jamaica and the United States in World Cup qualifying.

The match was again played against the backdrop of teargas and rubber bullets as riot police confronted protesters outside the Maracana stadium.

A similar demonstration had marred Saturday’s opening match between hosts Brazil and Japan in Brasilia. The protests are against the amount of public money being spent on staging the event and next year's World Cup.

Balotelli had a couple of early chances for Italy while Mexico’s Andres Guardado shaved the crossbar after mistake by Ignazio Abete in a lively start to the Group A encounter. Pirlo, always at the heart of the action, had a penalty turned down before bringing the Maracana to its feet with his 27th-minute goal. Mexico levelled seven minutes later when Andrea Barzagli was dispossessed by Giovani dos Santos and then barged over the Mexican forward. Hernandez sent Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Pirlo then produced an outrageous reverse pass to release Abete on the right, the move ending when Balotelli’s effort was blocked by Corona. Pirlo’s free kicks continued to cause trouble after the break and he curled another effort just wide of the post from a similar position to his goal. He also craftily rolled another free kick under the Mexican wall, leaving Riccardo Montolivo with a free shot which was blocked by Corona.

Italy grabbed the winner when Giaccherini cleverly flicked the ball into the penalty area where Balotelli held off Rodriguez and fired the ball past Corona.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Indian Air force paratroopers perform maneuvers at Bamhrauli Air station as the Indian Air Force ...

Indian Air force paratroopers perform maneuvers at Bamhrauli Air station as the Indian Air Force ...

Indian Mens Hockey team celebrates their birth in the final of the Hero Asia Cup 2017 with a...

Indian Mens Hockey team celebrates their birth in the final of the Hero Asia Cup 2017 with a...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden voyage of Ro-Ro Ferry Service between Ghogha and Dahej...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden voyage of Ro-Ro Ferry Service between Ghogha and Dahej...

India's Kuldeep Yadav celebrates the wicket of New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson during the...

India's Kuldeep Yadav celebrates the wicket of New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson during the...

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a ...

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a ...

Spain's Garbine Muguruza in action during her group stage match against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko...

Spain's Garbine Muguruza in action during her group stage match against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko...

Meng Meng, one of the two giant Chinese panda bears, is seen at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5...

Meng Meng, one of the two giant Chinese panda bears, is seen at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5...

Father Nicolas Maine blesses bikers' helmets during a

Father Nicolas Maine blesses bikers' helmets during a "Blessing of the Bikes" ceremony at Saint...

Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac in action with Everton's Nikola Vlasic during Premier League match at ...

Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac in action with Everton's Nikola Vlasic during Premier League match at ...

A volunteer uses a water hose to fight a wildfire near houses on the outskirts of Obidos...

A volunteer uses a water hose to fight a wildfire near houses on the outskirts of Obidos...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.