Italy v Brazil: Confederations Cup – as it happened

Neymar scored a brilliant free-kick as Brazil won an entertaining game to top their group

So Brazil finish top of Group A and will probably not have to play Spain in the semi-final. Italy won't enjoy that, I'll be bound, and you can be sure they didn't especially enjoy themselves this evening. It wasn't a great night for them in defence - it also wasn't a great night for the officials, again - and Brazil's forwards took full advantage, the highlight, of course, being Neymar's free-kick to restore their lead. Brazil are far from the finished article and their defence is decidedly shoddy, but we got our Samba Soccer in the end. I'm off to record a podcast. Night!

Full-time: Italy 2-4 Brazil

Peepity peep peep! That's your lot!

90 min+2: "My experience watching him is that, somewhat like Nani, a lot of people discount his overall ability and what he brings to a team because he's A) a little bit of a ball-hog and B) frequently goes for the spectacular," says Jesse Galdston. "That sounds like he's a poor overall player, but that's really just a question of how often he's on form and this is something that can only really be judged by repeat viewing over a reasonable period of time. When he's on song though, one example being that magical season Porto had with AVB when they won the treble, he's an absolutely devastating combination of strength, skill, and speed."

90 min: We're into stoppage time. There will be three minutes. The first half of this game was drab but the game has really come to life after the break.

GOAL! Italy 2-4 Brazil (Fred, 88 min)

Fred makes the game safe for Brazil with his second goal of the evening! Italy were unable to keep hold of the ball in their own half - this has been a running theme - and it ran to Bernard on the left of the area. He took his time, waited for support and then teed up Marcelo, whose low left-footer from the edge of the area was parried out by Buffon but straight to Fred, who slammed the rebound home. That wasn't especially good goalkeeping from Buffon. Fred looked onside.

85 min: My co-commentator Michael Hood informs me it's Japan 1-2 Mexico. "No, you're not alone," says Gabriel Pillar. "I've not seen much of him, tbh, but he seems a little unspectacular to me. That being said, I love how Brazilians pronounce his name "OOO-lk-ee"."


84 min: "I've got to say I was sceptical of Neymar before the tournament but I have to admit I've been thoroughly impressed by his goals and end product so far," says Tiago Marques. "What an amazing free kick! Mind you if that was a Barca match I'm pretty sure it would have been Messi taking it!"

82 min: Brazil are almost caught out by a training-ground routine from Italy. With everyone expecting Candreva to cross it, he waits for Balotelli to make a run away from the mass of bodies in the middle and to the edge of the area. When he does, he rolls it across to him but Balotelli's snapshot flashes wide.

81 min: Brazil are losing their heads here. Their defence has become very panicky and Marcelo, so impetuous, has just given away a cheap free-kick on the right for a foul on Maggio.

80 min: Brazil are rocking and so is their crossbar! Giaccherini whips a corner into the middle and Maggio is left alone six yards out to spank a header against the face of the bar and to safety. He simply had to score there. "No, the referee did not make the right decision," says Rob Marriott. "It's correct that he should have given a goal, but if he was intending to give a penalty to Italy then he ought to have played advantage. That would be the right decision. However, he blew his whistle, so nothing after that point should count - after all, don't we always stress the importance of playing to the whistle? That works both ways. Terrible refereeing, really. He's fortunate to get away with a very poor decision not to play advantage."

79 min: Hernanes nudges Balotelli over around 30 yards out. Balotelli will be taking it. I can tell you that much. And I can tell you that he strikes it into the wall.


78 min: "Balotelli doesn't miss penalties," says Eoin Price. "The ref was probably going to award a penalty then realised Balotelli was playing so decided he may as well just give the goal."

77 min: Am I the only person who doesn't really get Hulk?

76 min: Hulk is replaced by Fernando.

75 min: Actually I change my mind, you can't blow the whistle and then change your mind. Luckily I didn't blow my whistle so I can change my mind.

74 min: The referee definitely blew and was signalling for something but it might have been for a penalty to Italy because of Gustavo's foul on Balotelli. Which, I suppose, would mean he made the right call to allow the goal to stand. I think?

72 min: Stephan El Shaarawy is immediately on for Alessandro Diamanti.

GOAL! Italy 2-3 Brazil (Chiellini, 71 min)

This is bizarre. The referee seemed to be blowing his whistle for a foul by Balotelli as Chiellini tucked the ball home but the goal stands nonetheless. At first it seemed that the goal had been disallowed and Italy were irate but then it transpired he'd allowed it and Brazil were irate. It came from a corner on the right. Brazil didn't deal with it at all as it went to the near post. It fell to Balotelli who tumbled along with Gustavo, who seemed to be fouling him if anything, and Aquilani reacted quickest to lay it back to Chiellini, who kept his composure and slid the ball past the bodies on the line and into the bottom-right corner from eight yards out. Game on!


69 min: Neymar goes off, obviously to a huge ovation, and is replaced by Bernard.

68 min: "Golden Boy and all that, but I reckon there was a bit of a Piresian trailing leg in Neymar's "winning" of the free kick," says Gary Naylor. "And why Buffon didn't just stand still and catch it, I don't know." How could he stand still and catch it?

GOAL! Italy 1-3 Brazil (Fred, 66 min)

One more goal for Brazil and it'll be the 1970 World Cup final all over again. This is another magnificent goal. On the halfway line Marcelo spotted the run of Fred, who was peeling away from Chiellini. Marcelo duly obliged, chipping a lovely ball over the top for the striker, who took the ball in his stride, used his strength to hold off Chiellini and then absolutely thumped the ball high past Buffon.

62 min: Suddenly Italy have Brazil on the rack here. Brazil do look weak in defence on the right, which is curious when they have Dani Alves taking care of affairs down there, and Italy manage to work themselves into a promising position. Marchisio drops into the area and rolls a pass into Balotelli, who has his back to goal around six yards out. He tries to roll Dante but the defender is all over him and eventually Balotelli collapses, appealing for a penalty. It was. But it wasn't.

61 min: Neymar almost creates a goal for Italy. Sort of. He committed yet another foul - there's no second booking - as he brings down Maggio again, this time around 35 yards out in a central position. Balotelli takes it and his thunderous right-footed effort moves viciously in the air, even more so after it took a slight deflection, and Cesar had to have his wits about him to beat it away.

60 min: Maggio hoicks a cross towards the far post from the right and Diamanti's header loops off Alves and goes over for a corner, which Brazil deal with.

59 min: This time there's no free-kick as Neymar runs through the middle and is muscled out of it by Maggio. He goes down but nothing doing, so he responds by chasing back and committing a clumsy foul. He's already on a booking. Careful now.

58 min: "In the other game Chicharito scores - for a little dude he is a remarkable header!" says Michael Hood. Yes, he's the Mexican Michael Owen. And that'll be Mexico 1-0 Japan.

GOAL! Italy 1-2 Brazil (Neymar, 55 min)

They love him. They really love him. And it's not hard to see why. Truth be told, Neymar hasn't done a lot this evening apart from create one goal and then score a magnificent free-kick. There was a sense of inevitability about this, too. The ball was placed just outside the area in a central position. Only one person was taking it. Neymar stepped up and then blootered the ball into the top-left corner with his right foot. Buffon barely saw it. He didn't move.

53 min: Neymar suddenly moves for the gears, cutting in from the left and running menacingly at a furiously backtracking Italian defence. He's eventually brought down on the edge of the area by a stray leg from Maggio. It's just outside the area. Italy claim a dive but the referee is having none of it.


52 min: Balotelli actually picked up an injury creating that goal and had to go off for treatment. He should be ok.

GOAL! Italy 1-1 Brazil (Giaccherini, 51 min)

What an assist this is from Balotelli. It would be easy to write this goal off as route one but that would be churlish in the extreme and cheapen both Balotelli's part in it and Giaccherini's finish. Buffon hoofed a clearance high into Brazil's half and it was headed on by Candreva towards Balotelli. With his back to goal, he held off Dante, hung up his right leg and then managed to produce a kind of volleyed back-flick through to Giaccherini with the outside of his right foot. Giaccherini still had a bit to do but once he saw he had little support in the middle, he simply lashed it high past Cesar and into the far corner from around 15 yards out.


50 min: Neymar sure is being fouled a lot, though he's the only one who's forced an opponent to leave the pitch injured. Those magical hobnailed boots.

47 min: Candreva pings a shot high and wide from 25 yards out. That's a bit better from Italy. "Dante was clearly offside when it's knocked down, you might as well mention it," says Stuart Saunders. I wouldn't say he was clearly offside. His right leg was so you can see why the linesman missed it.

46 min: It's 9.06pm and the second half has begun. Italy kick it off and keep the ball for around 10 seconds before handing it back to Brazil. Oscar diddles his way into the box, linking up well with Fred, but gets the ball stuck under his feet and pokes it at Buffon from the edge of the area. He could have played it to Neymar, who was in space to his left.

It's 9.05pm and the players have got a move on. "It's interesting that you Brits complain so readily about your commentators," says Dan Schulwolf. "While we in the US certainly endure our fair share of ineptitude (looking at you, Gus Johnson), ESPN's number one pairing of Ian Darke and Steve McManaman (now Stuart Robson) have been quite excellent. I read that they are moving to BT now that ESPN lost the Premier League rights here in the USA, and they should provide a worthy #2 to the brilliance that is Martin Tyler and Gary Neville."

It's 9.04pm and there's no sign of the players. Come on chaps, get a move on.

Half-time: Italy 0-1 Brazil

And with that, the whistle is blown. It's not been great but we have a goal and Brazil have shaded it.

GOAL! Italy 0-1 Brazil (Dante, 45 min+1)

From the free-kick, Brazil take the lead! Neymar's inswinger found Italy's defence in a mess in the middle. Fred, totally unmarked, rose highest around eight yards to glance a header goalwards and although Buffon got down to his left to push the ball away, Dante was on hand to sidefoot the rebound past him. That was a tidy finish actually. He could have blazed it over. Buffon is furious with his defence and rightly so, while the goal is doubly special for Dante, who's scored it back in his home town.


45 min+1: We're looking at two minutes of the added stuff and Brazil have a free-kick on the left after Candreva fouled Neymar, and...

44 min: Gustavo becomes the latest player to be booked after cynically pulling back Candreva on the right. This game is disintegrating fast. "Mark Lawrenson barely knows about football (he wanted Isco to come on for Spain last week) so asking him about the socio-political discord in Brazil is like asking a puppy to explain the internal combustion engine," says Niall Mullen.


42 min: There's that famous Brazilian defending. From deep on the right, Candreva tries to curve a pass round the corner for Balotelli but underhits the pass. However Dante misjudged the bounce and let the ball slip under his boot. It almost ran to Balotelli but he couldn't adjust in time, the ball running away from him.

41 min: Oscar balloons a cross miles over the top. We're not being treated to much Samba Soccer right now. No Samba Soccer for us!

40 min: Marchisio gives Luiz a clump and that's a booking.

39 min: This is so bad that Jonathan Pearce has taken to asking Mark Lawrenson for his considered view on the riots in Brazil. After a bit of umming and ahhing, he eventually agrees with Pele's suggestion that "bandits and bad characters" have got involved in it. "Yes, I think there's some of that," he nods, moments after saying he didn't know much about the situation.

36 min: Now Balotelli is limping. Can everyone please stop getting injured? Brazil mount their first proper attack for a while, Hernanes steaming down the left and whipping a cross towards the near post. Hulk attacks it but Chiellini makes sure he can't get his head to it thanks to some strong-arm defending. A corner to Brazil, then. Buffon comes for it and just about claws it away. He looked like he was in trouble for a moment.

34 min: A classic piece of commentary here from the BBC. "How do you rate him, Mark?" says Jonathan Pearce. "De Sciglio? First time I've seen him." I love repartee.

33 min: David Luiz won't be able to continue. He's not been able to shake off that earlier injury and Dante will replace him.

32 min: Nothing.

31 min: Italy make it 2-2, as a hefty challenge sends Neymar sprawling on the left. Free-kick to Brazil. What can they do with this one then?

30 min: That Neymar incident kind of sums this match up so far. There's a fair bit of bad blood building up right now and Christian Maggio is on for Abate. That's already Italy's second change. "Brazil have morphed into Uruguay 1986," says Niall Mullen.


28 min: Neymar exacts some revenge on Abate, leaving his foot in as the defender cleared the ball. He meant that one. He's booked, which doesn't go down well, and he does seem to have hurt Abate, who looks like he's getting treatment on his shoulder. Dr Lawrenson reckons he's dislocated his shoulder.

27 min: Neymar is sent flying by Abate around 40 yards out. He gets a final warning.

26 min: Before Hulk can take the corner, Giaccherini replaces Montolivo, who must be injured. Buffon punches the corner away.

25 min: Gustavo shoots from 30 yards out. It goes miles wide but a corner is given. Not sure why. Bonucci doesn't agree. Gustavo can't look him in the eye. It's a telltale sign.

24 min: Neymar still can't do anything right. Oscar carves open the Italy defence with a gorgeous back-flick through to Neymar on the left. He's in the clear but rushes his shot, dragging it wide of the far post. Bah! What a waste of money!

23 min: Neymar can't do anything right at the moment. We can empathise with that in this office.

22 min: "They'll certainly be shooting from here." Alves dinks a woeful cross into the middle after a mild scramble, Italy hoof it clear. Yet another triumph in the history of the Guardian minute-by-minute!


21 min: Aquliani - remember him, Liverpool fans - bundles Oscar over on the right corner of the Italy area, conceding a free-kick. A congregation stands over the ball, debating precisely what to do with it. Eventually only Hulk and Alves are left. It's a tad wide but they'll certainly be shooting from here.

20 min: "I'm in Germany and i've asked 5 people about the Confed Cup and received very puzzled looks," says Gareth Hammond. "Anyway, a question - Is Diamanti still a West Ham player?" Nah, he plays for Bologna now.

18 min: Having survived that whirlwind first minute, Italy look comfortable now. Brazil aren't doing much. Neymar, who's limping a bit, is being well shackled by the tough Italian defence. I'm really not sure about Brazil, not least because they twice failed to beat England. England!

17 min: The first chance for Italy and it's the result of some dreadful defending from Brazil. They wantonly gave the ball away, allowing Marchisio to charge down the left flank. Hulk got back to tackle him but then proceeded to fall over, giving Marchisio the chance to nab the ball back and drill a low cross towards Balotelli. He got ahead of the two Brazilian defenders but snatched at the chance with his left foot, sending the ball harmlessly wide. He looks sharp though.

15 min: Ah, it would appear Luiz picked up a dead leg after tackling Candreva. He might be able to run this one off.

14 min: It's a bit shapeless at the moment. Let's be generous and say they're both feeling their way into this, rather than kicking the ball out of touch and kicking anything that moves. Meanwhile Brazil have a problem in defence. David Luiz has gone down clutching his right thigh and Dante, the Bayern Munich defender, is warming up.

11 min: Another foul from Brazil, this time Neymar on Montolivo.

9 min: Brazil are suddenly looking a little ragged and can't stop giving away bitty free-kicks. You do wonder whether this team has the requisite know-how.

8 min: David Luiz picks up a preposterous yellow card, rapping Balotelli on the ankles from behind. He was on the halfway line with his back to goal. He probably didn't need to do that and Diamanti lets him know what he thinks of the foul, leading to the pair of them having "words". Probably a Chelsea-West Ham thing going on there.

6 min: Baby steps for Italy here. Having worked their way into Brazil's half, they two free-kicks in quick succession. The first, swung in from the left by Diamanti, is headed away, only for Hulk to needlessly concede another free-kick on the right. Diamanti has another go and his teasing inswinger is headed behind by Gustavo. The corner comes to nothing.

5 min: Italy seemed to have calmed things down for the time being. "While it's probably true that neither side want to meet Spain in the semis, they're not quite there yet," says Phil Russell. "If Uruguay pile 9 or more past Tahiti (and if Nando can notch 4 and miss a penalty you know that's on) and the Super Eagles beat Spain by 4 clear goals... no wait come back it could happen I tells ya."

4 min: Finally some respite for Italy, though you fancy it won't be too long before Brazil are at them again. They're swarming all over the Italians, who have barely been out of their half.

2 min: From the resulting corner, the ball is cleared as far as Oscar, whose shot is deflected just wide with Buffon stranded. Italy are in a right mess.

And we're off! But not before a quick chat between Balotelli and Neymar. It's Brazil, in their yellow shirts and white shorts, who get the game underway. They're kicking from right to left and Italy, in their blue shirts and blue shorts, are all over the place in the first minute. It's no exaggeration to say that Brazil could have scored three times! Seriously. First Montolivo gave the ball away to Fred, who played it to Oscar on the right. He cut inside but couldn't make his way into the area. Moments later, though, he was in again, clean through the middle, and Chiellini managed to tackle him as he prepared to shoot. They still weren't done and suddenly Hulk was hulking into the area on the left, crashing in a shot that forced Buffon into a low one-handed save. What a start!

The anthems out the way - Italy shaded it, for my money - it's time for some Samba Soccer! I note Neymar's sporting a very sensible haircut and so is Balotelli these days. Disappointing. "When I was a poor student, one of the first things I splashed out on, with my first pub wage, was a Nokia 3310," says Brad McMillan. "Purely so I could have the Italian national anthem as my ringtone." Which anthem is best? I'd go for the French one.


You'll notice that Andrea Pirlo has been rested tonight. For shame. "Italy without Pirlo is like Ice-cream without a cone, Wings without Paul McCartney, The Lord of The Rings without Gandalf," says Oliver Lewis. But former West Ham legend Alessandro Diamanti is in the starting line-up. Forgive me, I know he's done well, but it's a situation that I will always find intrinsically baffling. Anyway here come the players. They're given a great reception but there are a lot of empty seats inside the stadium. Imagine pricing someone out of a bloody Confederations Cup game.

You can't have failed to notice the protests that have been rumbling on in Brazil while the Confederations Cup has been rumbling on in Brazil. Turns out people aren't too happy with money being spent on big shiny tournaments which aren't actually of any use to them instead of rather more useful things like hospitals and public services. Of course, the police have been handling the situation in their typically measured manner, liberally spraying rubber bullets and tear gas about the place. Good old Fifa!

The teams are so in so I might as well give you the teams. Here are the teams.

Italy: Balotelli.

Brazil: Neymar.

Italy: Buffon; Abate, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Chiellini; Candreva, Aquilani, Marchisio, Montolivo; Diamanti; Balotelli. Subs: Sirigu, Maggio, Astori, Giovinco, Gilardino, El Shaarawy, Barzagli, Cerci, Giaccherini, Marchetti.

Brazil: Julio Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Gustavo, Hernanes; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred. Subs: Jefferson, Fernando, Lucas Moura, Dante, Filipe Luis, Jean, Rever, Bernard, Jo, Jadson, Cavalieri.

Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)



Evening. It might only be the Confederations Cup. In fact, it is only the Confederations Cup. Yet even though both sides have already qualified from their group, it is still impossible not to swoon at a game between Brazil and Italy and everything that comes with it, from Carlos Alberto's stunner in 1970 to Roberto Baggio's penalty in 1994, via Paolo Rossi's hat-trick in 1982. This is, of course, a glorified friendly. But it's a glorified friendly that pits Neymar, who is actually pretty good despite not playing well in a friendly against England, against Mario Balotelli, who is actually pretty good despite no longer playing in England. The two sides are also duking it out for the right not to play Spain and when you put it in those terms, there really is a lot riding on this one. Even Tahiti couldn't contain Fernando Torres.

Kick-off: 8pm.


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