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FIFA Confederations Cup
23 June 2013
• Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Bahia
Referee: R. Irmatov
• Attendance: 48874
E. Giaccherini 51'
G. Chiellini 71'
Fred 66', 89'
Italy and Brazil will have to wait until tomorrow evening to see who they will face in the semi-finals. Thanks for joining me, Max Bentley, on this Goal.com live commentary. Make sure to check out the match report, player ratings and reaction. Until next time, goodbye!
That result means that Italy's 31-year winless streak against Brazil continues. On this showing, the Selecao look good value to retain their Confederations Cup title.
FULL TIME: ITALY 2-4 BRAZIL. The referee calls time on a superb half of football. That really was a game of two halves after a lacklustre first 45 minutes. Neymar is bound to steal the headlines again after his wonderful free kick but for me, the performance of Fred shone brightly and the Fluminese striker justifies his recent praise with two goals and an assist to his name. Cesare Prandelli will have concerns over the Azzurri's defensive display once again and they will certainly have to perform better if they are to overcome probable opponents Spain in the semi-finals.
90' + 2'
Balotelli eyes up a freekick 25 yards from goal but the forward surprises everybody by laying the ball off short to Marchisio whose attempted cross is well blocked by Dante. Probably Italy's last chance of the game.
Questions have to be asked over Gianluigi Buffon there. He will be disappointed with his initial save from Marcelo's shot and looked sluggish in responding to the rebound.
4-2. THAT SURELY SEALS IT! Bernard does well to wait patiently before picking out the run of Marcelo on the edge of the box and the Real Madrid left back's low shot is parried by Buffon, allowing Fred to demonstrate his predatory instinct by firing home the rebound. Stunning second half.
Candreva drives down the right flank and delivers an inviting cross into the box towards Balotelli but Thiago Silva is there to produce a crucial header under pressure. Superb defending from the PSG man.
Italy are pushing for the equaliser here and you can sense the nerves in the home crowd. Five minutes for Brazil to hold on and secure top spot.
BALOTELLI GOES CLOSE! The AC Milan striker nearly adds to his two-goal tally in the tournament when the ball is laid short to him from Candreva's free kick and his first-time curling effort flashes narrowly wide of Cesar's left-hand post. Italy are in the ascendancy here.
Kris Voakes: "Cesare Prandelli is now crouched down as he hopes against hope that his team can get something out of this game. They've shown their tough side to get back into it twice. It would kill this atmosphere if they levelled a second time though."
ITALY HIT THE BAR! Candreva whips a teasing corner into the box which Maggio meets with a firm header which rattles the woodwork. He got some power behind that - I think it's still shaking!
Going back to that second Italy goal, it appears the Brazil players were complaining as the referee seemed to blow his whistle before the ball went into the net to give a penalty. Controversial decision from the man in black.
Scolari responds by making a change of his own, replacing the disappointing Hulk with new Shakhtar Donetsk signing Fernando.
El Shaarawy almost makes an instant impact when he rises highest to meet Maggio's right wing cross, only to see his header glance narrowly over the crossbar.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Cesare Prandelli is gunning for the three points here and he replaces Alessandro Diamanti with Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy for the final 18 minutes. Can he bring some inspiration from the bench?
CHIELLINI PULLS ONE BACK! The Azzurri reduce the deficit when Brazil fail to clear their lines from a corner, allowing Aquilani to lay the ball back for the Juventus defender to sweep the ball into the bottom corner, despite the best efforts of Thiago Silva on the line. Brazil are furious as they feel that a foul should have been given against Balotelli. However, the goal stands. What a superb second half in Salvador!
Kris Voakes: "This is an amazing atmosphere now. The Salvador faithful are loving seeing Brazil turn it on here, and that ovation for Neymar as he left the field was something to behold."
A huge standing ovation for Neymar as his number is shown on the substitute's board. Three goals in three games. He is replaced by exciting Atletico Mineiro prospect Bernard.
3-1 BRAZIL! That is a fantastic goal from Fred who plucks Marcelo's pinpoint ball out of the air before holding off the challenge of Chiellini and firing a rocket of a shot past Cesar and into the roof of the net with his left foot. Control, power, accuracy - just brilliant!
Dani Alves has not got himself into too many advanced positions this evening but this time he bursts towards goal, only to be shrugged off by a strong challenge from De Sciglio. The Milan wing-back has been very impressive today.
The Italian bench are screaming for a penalty when Balotelli goes down under pressure from Dante in the box. The Bayern Munich man certainly seemed to be shoving him in the back there.
With Pirlo absent, Balotelli steps up for free kick duty and his long-range effort takes a nick off the shoulder of Thiago Silva, forcing Cesar to make a strong one-handed save to push the ball away from the top corner. That would have ben some strike!
This is a much better game now with both sides increasing the tempo of their play in search of more goals. Half an hour remaining.
The home support are screaming for a penalty when Neymar attempts to latch onto Hulk's through ball and goes to ground under the challenge of De Sciglio. The referee waves play on however - it seems the Barcelona forward was simply outmuscled there.
Kris Voakes: "There are fire crackers going off in the favelas around the outside of the stadium after that magnificent goal from Neymar. What an occasion this is becoming for Salvador as a whole."
HE'S DONE IT AGAIN! Brazil's golden boy comes up with the goods. Neymar steps up to strike a free kick from outside the box and curls a wonderful effort around the wall and into the far corner, leaving Buffon stranded. He celebrates with a samba shuffle, much to the delight of the home support. This game has suddenly come to life!
Kris Voakes: "This is an interesting moment. Brazil have conceded for the first time in the tournament, but with their place at the top of Group A still secure for now, the home fans are back in full voice in support of their side."
GREAT STRIKE FROM GIACCHERINI! It's route one stuff from Italy as Buffon's goal kick is flicked on by Candreva and then Balotelli, allowing the Juventus man to cut in from the right corner of the box and smash an unstoppable shot across Cesar and into the net. The Brazil defenders simply stood off him and watched. 1-1.
Brazil nearly snatch a second when Marcelo's free kick is flicked goalwards by the chest of Fred but the ball loops onto the top of the net. He may feel he should have done better there.
Antonio Candreva is capable of a wonderstrike but that is not one of his finer efforts as he blazes a vicious shot well wide of Cesar's post.
Early chance for Brazil as Oscar exchanges passes with Fred in the box, but the Chelsea playmaker can only toepoke his effort into the grateful gloves of Buffon.
Italy get the second half underway. Can they produce a fightback to end their 31-year winless streak against the Selecao?
On seeing replays of that Dante goal, it appears that the Bayern Munich man may have been marginally offside. Nonetheless, the Azzurri defence was in no man's land.
Brazil are unbeaten in 21 Confederations Cup games when they have taken the lead - 19 wins and two draws. Can Italy end that run with a second half comeback? Let me know your thoughts and predictions on the match via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
Kris Voakes: "Julio Cesar has managed to stay awake and alert, despite his lack of involvement in the first half! That's perhaps the greatest sign of the fact Brazil have been the most threatening side, and the home fans were just beginning to show signs of frustration with their team's inability to convert that when Dante turned home the opening goal."
Italy are really feeling the absence of Andrea Pirlo this evening and are lacking that creative force in the middle of the park. I don't think Julio Cesar has made a save.
HALF TIME: ITALY 0-1 BRAZIL. Dante's strike on the stroke of the half time gives Scolari's side the lead after what was a fairly disappointing 45 minutes in Salvador. Both sides have lacked conviction and creativity with Neymar a much marginalised figure. Let's hope for a better display in the second period.
45' + 1'
BRAZIL TAKE THE LEAD! Finally, we have a goal! Neymar floats a free kick into the box where Fred is left unmarked and his header is well parried by Buffon before Dante slots in from a few yards out. Where was the Italian marking? 1-0 Brazil.
Yellow CardLuiz Gustavo
Luiz Gustavo is the second Brazil player to be cautioned after tugging back Antonio Candreva.
Brazil work the ball nicely around the edge of the Italy box before it is laid off to Neymar but the forward's goalbound effort strikes the backside of Fred. The first half seems destined to be goalless.
Let-off for Dante! The Bayern Munich defender nearly gifts Italy an opener when he miskicks inside his own box but his blushes are spared after Balotelli fails to control the loose ball.
Kris Voakes: "The Brazilians are still very much involved in this contest, and have become noticeably frustrated with their heroes when opportunities to find players in space has been passed up. This is not only a crowd that loves its football, but also one that knows its football too."
It's hardly been an enthralling first half and Oscar sums up his side's attacking display so far as he balloons an effort high over the crossbar.
Yellow CardClaudio Marchisio
Claudio Marchisio goes into the referee's notebook for a mistimed challenge on Oscar.
Italy seem happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, much to the frustration of the home support. Neymar has been very quiet so far with the Azzurri doing a good job in preventing service to the 21-year-old.
Marcelo plays the ball out to the left for Hernanes to whip a cross into the box but Chiellini is there to produce a firm challenge to deny Hulk from prodding in from close range. Will we see a goal before the break?
This game has gone flat after that early Brazil spell and Hulk looks to make things happen but his attempted dribble is brought to a halt by De Sciglio. Good defending from the Milan youngster.
Another stoppage in play, this time after David Luiz goes down, holding his thigh again. The Chelsea man will not be able to continue and Dante is stripped and ready for action.
Kris Voakes: "The Italian medical staff were holding on to Abate's arm very carefully there as he was led down the tunnel. It looked a lot like a break of some sort."
Ignazio Abate cannot continue and he is replaced by Napoli's Christian Maggio. I wish him a speedy recovery. Only one substitution remaining for Cesare Prandelli.
As a result of the stoppage in play, the crowd decide to do a Mexican wave! It's been a popular feature in this tournament.
Ignazio Abate is writhing on the turf here as he lands awkwardly after a mistimed challenge from Neymar. The Italians could be forced into another change here as it seems the Milan defender has dislocated his shoulder. Neymar is booked for the foul.
Riccardo Montolivo, who had been playing in the Pirlo role, appears to have picked up a knock and the Milan midfielder is replaced by Emanuele Giaccherini.
Luiz Gustavo opts to try his luck from range and his low effort takes a slight deflection off Bonucci and behind for a corner.
Sparkling football from Brazil! Oscar produces a sublime flick to play the ball behind the Italy backline for Neymar, but the 21-year-old skews his left-footed effort wide of the post. With the form he's been in, you expect to see the net bulging.
Kris Voakes: "Cesare Prandelli has just sat down for about the first time in the game, but quickly bounced back to his feet to help organise his side's defensive wall. Luiz Felipe Scolari, meanwhile, has spent most of the match so far kicking every ball simply with his contorting body shapes!"
Alberto Aquilani concedes a freekick in a dangerous area outside the box which Hulk surprisingly opts to toss into the box and after an initial scramble, Chiellini manages to clear. I'm surprised the Zenit St. Petersburg forward didn't shoot from there.
That's better from Brazil! Marcelo embarks on a mazy dribble before attempting a one-two with Fred, but the Fluminese striker cannot flick the return pass into the feet of the Real Madrid man and Italy clear.
Brazil are struggling to find a way through the Italy defence, forcing Thiago Silva to opt for the long ball but Abate is there to nick the ball away from Neymar. The new Barcelona man has not seen too much of the ball so far.
Italy are not allowing Brazil to settle on the ball and their quick pressing is forcing Scolari's side into mistakes. Marchisio takes advantage of a slip from Hulk before crossing low for Balotelli but the AC Milan striker mishits his shot wide of Cesar's right-hand post.
David Luiz goes down holding his thigh and I'm not sure he will be able to continue here. Bayern Munich defender Dante warms up on the sidelines. He's been in the wars recently.
Brazil are enjoying plenty of possession but since that early flurry, they have struggled to penetrate through the Italian defence.
Kris Voakes: "The crowd looked set for a wonderful afternoon following those couple of chances in the opening minute, but Italy's composure since then has seen much of the home support rocked back on their heels a little. They particularly didn't like the yellow card awarded to David Luiz."
Brazil are the current holders of the Confederations Cup and they defeated Italy 3-0 in 2009 with a double from Luis Fabiano and an own goal from Andrea Dossena. Can they dent the Azzurri's hopes this time around?
Yellow CardDavid Luiz
David Luiz picks up an early caution after a rash tackle through the back of Balotelli. That's silly from the Chelsea man.
Alessandro Diamanti whips a superb cross into the Brazil box and Thiago Silva does well to glance the ball behind for the first corner of the game. However, Candreva's delivery is disappointing and Fred clears at the near post.
Mario Balotelli produces a neat piece of skill to launch the Azzurri's first attack of the game and he picks out the run of Marchisio but the Juventus man is unable to find Diamanti with his cutback, allowing Alves to clear.
The home crowd are really behind their players this evening and the noise levels rise in anticipation of an early Brazil goal. Italy are yet to make it out of their half yet.
BRILLIANT START FROM BRAZIL! Scolari's side almost take the lead within the first minute and the Azzurri have De Sciglio and Chiellini to thank after the defensive duo both make crucial last-ditch challenges. Moments later Hulk bursts into the box and his low drive is well parried by Buffon.
The referee blows his whistle and Brazil eventually get us underway. The crowd are so loud that Neymar didn't even hear the whistle blow!
Kris Voakes: "The fans continue to sing the national anthem over again after the band have stopped playing, and the goosebumps get to work.... Brilliant stuff!"
The teams emerge onto the field of play and the Italian national anthem is the first to echo around this magnificent arena, led by the passionate Gianluigi Buffon. The home support then join in for a loud rendition of the Brazilian anthem - it really is a brilliant atmosphere in Salvador this evening.
Goal correspondent Kris Voakes is our man in the stadium tonight and here are his pre-match thoughts: "The atmosphere is magnificent here. The only part of the stadium in which there is a significant space in the crowd is the sunniest area, with many leaving it until the last moment to subject themselves to the intense heat. Everyone's clearly well up for this one though!"
Italy have not tasted victory against the Selecao for over 30 years. The last time was when a Paolo Rossi hat-trick guided the Azzurri to a 3-2 win in the 1982 World Cup. The teams most recently met in a 2-2 draw in Switzerland back in March when goals from Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli helped peg Brazil back after Fred and Oscar's first-half strikes.
As for Brazil, Luiz Felipe Scolari makes only change to the team which beat Mexico 2-0. Paulinho is sidelined with an ankle sprain, giving a chance for Lazio playmaker Hernanes to shine. David Luiz starts in defence despite breaking his nose against Mexico whilst Neymar and Hulk start either side of Fred in an unchanged attacking trident for the Selecao.
Italy are forced to make two changes to the side which claimed a pulsating 4-3 win over Japan on Wednesday with Daniele De Rossi sitting out through suspension and Andrea Pirlo suffering from a calf injury. Claudio Marchisio and Antonio Candreva are welcomed into the starting eleven along with Ignazio Abate, Leonardo Bonucci and Alessandro Diamanti who replace Christian Maggio, Andrea Barzagli and Emanuele Giaccherini respectively.
Brazil (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Hernanes, Luiz Gustavo; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred.
Italy (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Sciglio; Aquilani, Montolivo; Diamanti, Marchisio, Candreva; Balotelli.
Without any further ado, here are tonight's lineups...
Italy's 4-3 victory over Japan will live long in the memory as one of the all-time Confederations Cup classics although Azzurri supporters will surely not have been too impressed with the uncharacteristically poor defensive display. Their rearguard will need to be at its very best this evening if they are to defeat a Brazil side which has lost only one competitive match on home soil (a a 3-1 defeat to Peru in Belo Horizante at the 1975 Copa America) in the last 50 years.
Neymar has undoubtedly been the player of the tournament so far and the 21-year-old has silenced those critics who doubted whether he had what it took at the highest level. With two goals already to his name and two dazzling man-of-the-match performances, Barcelona's €57 million capture looks to be a solid investment. Can he prove to be the difference again tonight?
Both Italy and Brazil have already secured their progress to the semi-finals of the 2013 Confederations Cup but with top spot up for grabs and a potential tricky tie against Spain to avoid in the next round, both managers will be determined to maintain their 100% record in the tournament so far. My name is Max Bentley and I'll be bringing you all the action from what promises to be a thrilling encounter at the Arena Fonte Nova. Feel free to tweet me your thoughts and predictions on the match via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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