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2 vs 2
Played
March 21, 2013 3:30 PM EDT
Stade de Genève — Carouge
Referee:‬ S. Studer‎
Attendance:‬ 28000‎
 
Fred 33′
Oscar 42′
Top of the Match
Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli
Italy
Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli
Italy
Flop of the Match
Diego Costa
Diego Costa
Brazil
Hulk
Hulk
Brazil

Italy 2-2 Brazil: Balotelli beauty ensures Swiss spectacular ends all-square

Well taken goals from Fred and Oscar put the Selecao in complete control in Geneva, but Daniele De Rossi halved the Azzurri's deficit before Super Mario stepped up to the mark

By Mark Doyle

Italy and Brazil played out an absorbing 2-2 draw in Switzerland on Thursday evening that warrants comparison with some of the most memorable clashes between these two great footballing nations.

Despite having the better of a thrilling first half, the Azzurri went in two goals down at the break, after being rocked by wonderfully taken goals from Fred and Oscar. However, Cesare Prandelli's men came storming back in the second half and after Daniele De Rossi had halved Brazil's advantage with a clever flick, Mario Balotelli earned Italy a thoroughly merited share of the spoils with a sublime curler.

It was the least Italy deserved. It had edged what was a refreshingly open start to this high-profile friendly, with both Emanuele Giaccherini and Balotelli drawing fine saves out of Julio Cesar. However, sandwiched in between those efforts was a stunning show of pace from Neymar, who breezed past Leonardo Bonucci before unleashing a well-struck shot which Gianluigi Buffon did well to parry around his right post.

Still, with Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in the middle of the park, it was the Azzurri who exhibited the greater control and cohesion early on, and they went closest to breaking the deadlock at the end of the opening quarter.

Pirlo picked up possession in midfield and created some time and space for himself with a superb hand-off on Neymar before playing the most sublime pass in behind Filipe Luis for Christian Maggio. The full back took the ball in his stride but he his close-range effort on goal was weak and Julio Cesar saved with his chest.

However, despite its obvious superiority in midfield, Italy fell behind just after the half-hour mark, an inexplicably unmarked Fred calmly volleying home at the far post, after Filipe Luis' cross from the left wing had taken a slight deflection off the head of Bonucci.

Italy was left reeling by a second sucker punch just before the break. Neymar was released into space just inside Italian territory and the Santos starlet cleverly cut across Pirlo before slipping in Oscar with a brilliant reverse pass. The Selecao No. 10 took care of the rest, coolly prodding the ball past Buffon with the outside of his right foot.

Prandelli responded to the shock of conceding a second goal against the run of play by sending Stephan El Shaarawy on in place of Pablo Osvaldo during the halftime interval, as well as replacing Pirlo with Alessio Cerci. El Shaarawy made an immediate difference, linking well with Balotelli before being denied by Julio Cesar from an acute angle.

From the resulting corner, De Rossi halved Italy's deficit with an innovative flick of his right boot. Less than three minutes later, the Azzurri were level - and in even more spectacular style, Balotelli curling the ball past Julio Cesar from all of 25 yards out.

Incredibly, Italy should have then moved ahead just after the hour mark, but after instantly controlling Riccardo Montolivo's deflected strike, Balotelli volleyed straight at the overworked Julio Cesar. Another glorious chance went begging on 67 minutes when an unmarked Bonucci glanced a near-post header just wide.

The Azzurri continued to pile on the pressure in the closing stages but, despite the best efforts of El Shaarawy, they were unable to find a winner, which was probably no bad thing given that football deserved to be the only winner on a night like this.

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Italy

1
Gianluigi Buffon
Goalkeeper
3.00
15
Andrea Barzagli
Defender
3.50
19
3.50
2
3.50
21
Andrea Pirlo
Midfielder
46′
2.50
11
Christian Maggio
Midfielder
78′
3.50
16
Daniele De Rossi
Midfielder
54′ 81′
3.50
18
Riccardo Montolivo
Midfielder
3.50
23
3.00
45
4.00
17
2.50

Brazil

3.50
30
Julio César
Goalkeeper
2.50
22
3.00
4
Dante
Defender
2.00
4
David Luiz
Defender
2.50
3
Filipe Luis
Defender
70′ 77′
3.00
-
Fernando
Midfielder
2.50
-
Hernanes
Midfielder
62′ 91′
3.50
11
Oscar
Midfielder
42′ 62′
3.50
-
Fred
Striker
27′ 33′ 69′
3.00
29
Hulk
Striker
85′
3.00
11
Neymar
Striker
42′

Substitutes

26
 - 
23
 - 
13
 - 
20
 - 
13
 - 
87
 - 
11
Alessio Cerci
Midfielder
46′
3.50
16
Andrea Poli
Midfielder
68′ 83′
3.00
-
 - 
11
 - 
92
3.00
12
 - 

Substitutes

 - 
1
 - 
12
Marcelo
Defender
77′
 - 
4
 - 
22
Luiz Gustavo
Midfielder
91′
 - 
-
Jean
Midfielder
85′
2.00
19
2.00
22
Kaká
Midfielder
62′
 - 
17
Osvaldo
Striker

Coach/Manager

-
 - 

Coach/Manager

 - 
-
 
  • Goal
  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Penalty Missed
  • Yellow Card
  • Assist
  • Penalty Save
  • Penalty Shootout Goal
  • Penalty Shootout Miss
  • Yellow Card / Red Card
  • Red Card
  • Substitution IN
  • Substitution OUT
  • Injury
  • Goal.com Rating
  • Goal.com Man of the Match
  • Goal.com Flop of the Match
  • Top & Flop Global Ranking
  • Fans' Man of the Match
  • Fans' Flop of the Match
Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
A. Pulido A. Pulido
Striker
Tigres
4 0
Chris Wondolowski Chris Wondolowski
Striker
Earthquakes
3 0
Neymar Neymar
Striker
Barcelona
3 0
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
Striker
Real Madrid
2 0
Ivica Olic Ivica Olic
Striker
Wolfsburg
2 0