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June 16, 2013
• Estadio Jornalista Mário Filho (Maracanã), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
Referee: E. Osses
• Attendance: 73123
J. Hernández 34'
A. Pirlo 27'
M. Balotelli 78'
El Tri will look to bounce back from their opening Confederations Cup defeat when they travel to Fortaleza to take on hosts Brazil on Wednesday whilst Italy can progress to the semi-finals with victory over Japan in Recife. 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 defeat is actually Mexico's first loss in 14 games - a run stretching back to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of USA last August. As for Italy, they have now lost only once in 23 competitive matches under Prandelli - the Euro 2012 final defeat to Spain.
Greg Stobart: Andrea Pirlo was my man-of-the-match on his 100th international appearance, not just for his stunning free-kick but his brilliant vision and passing as he dictated the game. The crowd here at the Maracana sure appreciated his efforts, his name ringing around this stunning arena as the players made their way down the tunnel.
Greg Stobart: Well, that was great fun and the Confederations Cup has got off to a fantastic start here in Brazil. Italy deserved the points for the way they approached the game but Mexico certainly played their part, particularly in the first-half.
FULL TIME: MEXICO 1-2 ITALY. Mario Balotelli's brute strength and power fires Italy to three points after Javier Hernandez's first-half penalty had cancelled out Andrea Pirlo's glorious free kick on his 100th Azzurri appearance. In truth, the Italians were good value for the victory and that is the perfect start to a competition where they have never advanced past the group stages.
90' + 3'
Yep, the Azzurri opt to take the free kick short and the referee soon puts the whistle to his lips to signal full time. The Italian bench are clearly delighted by that result.
90' + 2'
The Italians really are one of the best sides in maintaining possession with all outfield players comfortable of receiving the ball. Cerci does well to win a free kick by the corner flag. I doubt this will go into the box.
The fourth official holds up his board to indicate three minutes of stoppage time. Can Italy hold on?
Raul Jimenez looks to make himself a hero when he bursts through the Azzurri midfield before his low drive is well saved by the outstretched fingertips of Buffon. Can Mexico salvage a point at the death?
A stoppage in play allows both managers to make a change. Mario Balotelli exits the field to a standing ovation and is replaced by Alberto Gilardino. De la Torre throws on Raul Jimenez in place of defensive midfielder Jesus Zavala.
Greg Stobart: The whole Italy bench rose as one as Mario Balotelli’s shot struck the net, with the Italy forward reproducing the celebration we saw during his heroics at the semi-final of Euro 2012 against Germany. Italy, it must be said, deserve this victory, should they hold on. They are been the better side throughout the game and in Andrea Pirlo boat the outstanding player of the evening.
Italy are just looking to see out the remainder of this game now by holding onto possession. Cries of 'Ole' ring out from the supporters.
Yellow Card Daniele De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi is the latest man in the book after a mistimed challenge on Torrado. He joins Barzagli and Balotelli on a caution for Italy.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Balotelli has been shown a yellow card for removing his shirt in celebration.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Goal Mario Balotelli
BALOTELLI PUTS ITALY 2-1 UP! The Milan forward shows fantastic strength to hold off the challenge of Rodriguez, controlling Giaccherini's neat flick and firing powerfully past Corona. He has worked tirelessly for that goal this evening.
Salcido releases dos Santos down the left wing and with little to pick out in the box, the Mallorca man does brilliantly to win a corner. The 24-year-old has been Mexico's brightest performer this evening.
Gerardo Flores ventures forward from defence but his low drive is comfortably held by Buffon. Incidentally, Italy are unbeaten in all 11 games when Pirlo has scored. Can Mexico end that run with a late winner?
Greg Stobart: Italy are still in charge of possession but their passing has lost some of its zip and tempo, with Cesare Prandelli crouched on the touchline as he summons his players to find more urgency.
Greg Stobart: You sense some of the players are feeling tired out there as we go through a lull in the game, but space will inevitably open up for both sides in the final quarter of the game. Italy are still in charge of possession but their passing has lost some of its zip and tempo, with Cesare Prandelli crouched on the touchline as he summons his players to find more urgency.You sense some of the players are feeling tired out there as we go through a lull in the game, but space will inevitably open up for both sides in the final quarter of the game.
Andrea Pirlo produces some excellent skill to fool Torrado on the left side of the box and when his cross is headed to the edge of the box, Balotelli slices the ball wide. It hasn't been his day so far.
LET-OFF FOR ITALY! Guardado whips a superb free kick into the Azzurri box which Flores meets with a thumping downward header which flashes just wide of Buffon's goal. Can El Tri find a winner in the final 20 minutes?
Cesare Prandelli finally decides to make a change, replacing Claudio Marchisio with exciting Torino winger Alessio Cerci. Can he make the difference?
Dos Santos produces a burst of pace to dart down the right wing but Chiellini manages to keep up and prevents the cross entering the box with a brilliant interception. From the resulting corner, Italy hoof clear.
Loud shots of 'Mexico' reverberate around the ground as the fans begin to feel more confident that their team can grab something from this game. Just over 25 minutes remaining for either side to find a winner.
On viewing that incident, Balotelli has every right to feel aggrieved. He was hauled down by Moreno in the box and the Espanyol defender made no attempt to win the ball. He's got away with that one.
Greg Stobart: The start of the second-half has failed to match the entertainment of the first 45 minutes, with the main excitement being generated by the build-up to Andrea Pirlo’s free-kicks. The Mexico head coach, Jose Manuel de la Torre, is going bananas at his defenders on the touchline as the sun sets here in Rio, the floodlights lighting up the Maracana.
Mario Balotelli is starting to lose his temper - this time after he is felled inside the box, only to see the Chilean referee wave away his penalty appeals. The Azzurri striker kicks the turf in anger.
Andrea Pirlo is having some free kick practice this evening and he nearly doubles his tally, only to see his perfectly-weighted freekick curl just wide of the right post with Corona stranded.
Yellow Card Giovani dos Santos
Mario Balotelli is the victim of a crunching challenge from Torrado and the Milan striker squares up to the veteran midfielder and just about manages to keep his cool. He was sent off in the recent qualifier against the Czech Republic.
Pirlo delivers a superb free kick into the box which causes problems in the Mexico box, but Rodriguez finally manages to hoof clear. Will we see a change from Prandelli soon?
Mexico attack straight down the other end but Hernandez's strike drags comfortably wide of Buffon's left-hand post. He hasn't seen too much of the ball so far.
This time the Juventus man opts for a cheeky free kick under the wall which deflects into the path of Montolivo who can only poke the ball into the gloves of Corona from a few yards out. The net should definitely have been bulging there.
Balotelli rolls the challenge of Rodriguez outside the box and wins a freekick in a dangerous area - similar to where Pirlo scored in the first half. Surely Pirlo can't do it again?
Chiellini powers into the Mexico six-yard box in an attempt to meet Pirlo's corner but Corona is brave and gets off his line quickly to punch clear.
Mexico are looking to cause problems on the counter and with numbers in support, Guardado opts to go alone but his mazy dribble comes to a halt by a combination of Chiellini and Barzagli. That was a real waste.
Italy have come out of the blocks quickly in the second half but they are yet to test Corona. Marchisio looks to clip a smart cross towards the back post for Giaccherini but the experienced Torrado makes a clever block.
Yellow Card H. Moreno
Hector Moreno is the first Mexican player in the book for a foul through the back of Balotelli. The Milan striker certainly felt that one.
The teams reemerge from the tunnels for the second half and Italy get the ball rolling. No changes at half-time.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco scored a joint-tournament record six goals en route to Mexico's 1999 Confederations Cup triumph, when the the hosts defeated Brazil 4-3 in the final. Can El Tri go all the way this year?
Italy made their Fifa Confederations Cup debut in 2009 but defeats to Brazil and Egypt ensured that Marcello Lippi's side were knocked out in the group stage. A win here would certainly be a big step in aiding them into the semi-finals for the first time.
Greg Stobart: The atmosphere here has been absolutely fantastic - beyond anything I expected - and while the rest of Brazil has some serious work to do in the next 12 months, I think Rio is nearly ready.
What did you make of that first half? Which players have impressed/disappointed you? Can Balotelli find a way past Corona or will the Mexicans spring the first upset of the tournament? Let me know your thoughts via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
Greg Stobart: A thoroughly entertaining first-half comes to an end with appreciative applause from the locals who have already got their money’s worth. Italy controlled possession and made the better chances, with Andrea Pirlo running the show and opening the scoring with a wonderful free-kick on his 100th international appearance. Mexico, though, always looked a threat on the counter-attack, and they took advantage of sloppy Italy defending to level through Javier Hernandez’s penalty.
HALF TIME: ITALY 1-1 MEXICO. Andrea Pirlo marked his 100th Azzurri appearance with a sublime trademark free kick before a moment of madness from Andrea Barzagli allowed Javier Hernandez to level from the spot. It's been a lively opening 45 minutes, let's hope for more of the same after the break.
Italy are rallying to retake the lead at the end of the half but De Rossi's whipped cross is headed well clear by Rodriguez. They've been the dominant side this half but that one moment of carelessness from Barzagli has proved costly.
You feel that there are still more goals in this one. Italy are enjoying lots of possession in the wide areas with the wing-backs too often exposed. Approaching the half-time whistle here in Rio de Janeiro.
Pirlo splits the Mexico defence with an inch-perfect pass past Salcido down the right but Abate cannot pick out Balotelli with his low cross and Corona clears the danger.
Marchisio does well to pick out Balotelli on the edge of the box but the Milan forward is once again frustrated by Corona as the Cruz Azul shotstopper reacts well to push away his left-footed strike.
Greg Stobart: Italy were warned earlier when Abate dawdled on the ball, and this time they were punished. Andrea Barzagli completely lost his concentration in the build up to the penalty and Giovani dos Santos was too sharp for the Azzurri defender. A very calm penalty from Javier Hernandez, too, to take his international record to 33 goals in 50 appearances for Mexico. Both head coaches are now prowling in their technical areas. Great game.
Emanuele Giaccherini has got himself into some promising situations this evening but once again his first touch lets him down. Stephan El Shaarawy looks on eagerly from the bench.
Andrea Barzagli was extremely fortunate to only escape with a yellow card there. It was a moment of sheer carelessness. Several of the Mexico players have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision.
Penalty Goal Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
1-1! MEXICO ARE LEVEL! Javier Hernandez steps up to take the penalty and he coolly sends Buffon the wrong way. That's his 33rd international goal in 52 appearances. Sensational.
Yellow Card Andrea Barzagli
PENALTY FOR MEXICO! Andrea Barzagli dallies in possession and dos Santos steals the balls off the Juventus defender's toes before he is hauled to the floor. The referee rightfully points to the spot.
Greg Stobart: Pirlo’s name was sung by Italians and Brazilians alike before he stepped up to take that free-kick - and he responded with a wonderful strike, whipping the ball over the wall and into the top corner. The celebrations among the Italy players - and their bench - tells you that they are taking this tournament very seriously, too.
Italy look to take advantage of a shellshocked Mexico but Giaccherini fails to control Pirlo's raking pass and a promising move breaks down. The former-Cesena man is not the fans' favourite choice, it has to be said.
Goal Andrea Pirlo
1-0 ITALY! WHAT A WAY TO MARK YOUR 100TH INTERNATIONAL APPEARANCE! The crowd clap in anticipation as Pirlo steps up to take a freekick from around 25 yards and the Juventus midfielder doesn't disappoint as he curls the ball over the wall and into the top left corner. Stunning strike.
Greg Stobart: Italy are still in control here but Mexico have looked a threat on the counter-attack in an open, entertaining first quarter of the game. The raucous atmosphere of the opening minutes had dropped off a bit until the locals made a deafening noise as they started singing songs in support of Brazil.
Andrea Pirlo whips the set-piece into the box but it is comfortably claimed by Corona. Can the veteran midfielder provide another majestic performance on his 100th international appearance?
Mattia De Sciglio is one of the young players Prandelli is keen to give international experience to and the Milan full-back delivers a decent cross into the box which is wildly miskicked behind by Salcido for a corner.
Mexico launch a counterattack with Hernandez finding himself in space on the left side of the box. He has Guardado in the centre but opts to go alone and miscues his strike straight into the gloves of Buffon. With his international goal rate, you expect better.
Guardado has looked lively so far and the Valencia winger tries his luck from distance but watches his strike fly over the top of Buffon's goal.
Balotelli shows some neat footwork to evade three Mexico defenders on the edge of the box but just as he lines up the strike, Torrado nips the ball away, leaving the Milan player in a heap on the turf.
Italy are screaming for a penalty when Pirlo goes down under a challenge in the box but the referee waves play on. There were certainly a few nervous glances from the Mexico players there.
Dos Santos steps up to execute the set-piece but the former-Tottenham man can only strike disappointingly into the wall.
Mexico win a freekick in a promising position when Chiellini clumsily fouls dos Santos outside the box. Can they open the scoring here?
Balotelli is never one to shy away from a shot and he tries his luck from distance but watches the ball sail high over the crossbar. What a splendid signing he has proved to be for AC Milan in changing their fortunes in the second half of the season.
Greg Stobart: Cesare Prandelli, immaculately dressed in a suit despite the sweltering temperature, is kicking every ball from the very edge of the Italy technical area here. But the Azzurri head coach must be pleased with what he’s seen so far, with the Italy playing some very neat attacking football.
MEXICO HIT THE BAR! Torre's side almost take the lead against the run of play when dos Santos outmuscles Abate down the left before picking out Guardado whose curling strike crashes against the woodwork.
Italy's last victory against Mexico came back in January 1993 when goals from Roberto Baggio and Paolo Maldini gave the Azzurri a 2-0 win in Florence.
Corona has been busy in the opening exchanges and the Mexican goalkeeper does well to parry Marchisio's swerving drive before preventing Giaccherini from turning in the rebound. Italy are up for this one!
Italy continue to pour forward and Giaccherini finds himself in space down the left, cutting inside Gerardo Flores and bending an effort with his right foot narrowly past the post. Mexico are struggling to deal with the Italians in the early stages.
Italy have started really brightly here and Riccardo Montolivo does excellently to burst down the left and cut the ball back for Balotelli whose first-time effort is well parried by Corona.
Francisco Javier Rodriguez plays a poor pass straight to Balotelli and the Milan striker spots Corona off his line but his attempted lob bounces a few inches wide. That would have been some goal.
Jose de Jesus Corona is donning a black goalkeeper strip this evening. Cast your minds back to 1994 when Campos used to wear that multi-coloured jersey. Surely one of the worst kits of all time?
El Tri go straight back down the other end but Andres Guardado drags his shot wide of the post. Good start here.
Italy almost take the lead early on when Mario Balotelli looks to slip the ball in behind Hector Moreno for Emanuele Giaccherini but the Mexican defender does just enough to avert the danger.
The Chilean official blows his whistle and we are underway. Mexico are playing in their traditional green strip with Italy in their away white colours.
The Italians continue to run down the clock and Prandelli makes another change, replacing Emanuele Giaccherini with Fiorentina midfielder Albero Aquilani.
The Italian national anthem follows with captain Gianluigi Buffon belting out the lyrics with his traditional gusto. Even Luciano Pavarotti would be proud.
The sides emerge onto the field to a loud roar from both sets of supporters. The Mexican national anthem reverberates around this great stadium with every player making an effort to sing along. That's good to see.
Jose Manuel de la Torre makes three changes to the side which played out a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday. Giovani dos Santos and Javier Aquino come into the midfield in place of Pablo Barrera and Aldo de Negris. Gerardo Torrado replaces Hector Herrera in front of the defence to make his 142nd international appearance.
Cesare Prandelli opts for a 4-3-2-1 formation which he has adopted in training sessions this week. 10 of the 11 players ply their trade for either AC Milan or Juventus - Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi is the exception. Stephan El Shaarawy is struggling with an ankle injury, meaning that Mario Balotelli is a lone striker, with Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini in support. Andrea Pirlo becomes the first Italian midfielder to make 100 caps in the Azzurri jersey. What a servant he has been!
Italy (4-3-2-1): Buffon; Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Sciglio; De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo; Giaccherini, Marchisio; Balotelli.
Mexico (4-4-2): Corona; Salcido, Rodriguez, Moreno, Flores; Guardado, Torrado, Zavala, Aquino; dos Santos, Hernandez.
Without any further ado, here are this evening's lineups...
Italy have also failed to impress recently. The Azzurri relied on a goalkeeping masterclass from Gianluigi Buffon to draw 0-0 with Czech Republic before throwing away a two-goal lead against minnows Haiti to draw 2-2 on Tuesday. Can Prandelli's men make it past the group stages for the first time in their history? Let me know your predictions via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
Mexico come into this match on the back of two disappointing 0-0 draws to Panama and Costa Rica as they lumber slowly towards qualification for Brazil 2014. El Tri were booed off the pitch in their last game and the pressure is beginning to grow on coach Jose Manuel de la Torre. Can they upset the odds to defeat Italy this evening?
My name is Max Bentley and I'll be bringing you all the action this evening from this truly spectacular venue. Goal Correspondent Greg Stobart, in attendance at the Maracana in Rio, has just taken his seat in the famous arena: "There was a real buzz around the outside of the stadium - but the Maracana is even more impressive once you're inside. The first thing you notice about this revamped stadium is the way it holds in the noise, with both teams greeted by huge roars as they came out to start their warm-ups."
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of the 2013 Confederations Cup Group A match between Mexico and Italy from the iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Hosts Brazil got the competition off to a flying start last night with their 3-0 victory over Japan and let's hope for another thrilling encounter this evening.
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