Confederations Cup: A 1st round to remember
Great goals, stunning saves and remarkable upsets: the first round of the FIFA Confederations Cup provided plenty of talking points for fans of the beautiful game.
Here are just some of the highlights:
Best player: All of the talk going into this tournament was focused on two players: Kaka and Fernando Torres. While both put in strong performances in the first round, Valencia forward David Villa eclipsed them both, scoring in each of the European champions' victories.
Best team: It's a toss-up between Spain and Brazil. Both teams won all three of their games and clinched first place in their respective groups. Spain outscored its opponents 8-0, striking the perfect balance between defence and attack, but give the nod to Brazil, which after a shaky start, dominated the U.S. and Italy.
Best game: Brazil's 4-3 victory over Egypt had everything: plenty of goals, great saves, drama and a unbelievable finish that saw Kaka score from the penalty spot in injury time to rescue the Brazilians.
Best goal: Giuseppe Rossi was one of the few bright spots for Italy, and his first goal in the Azzurri's 3-1 win over the U.S. was the best of the first round. After winning the ball in midfield, Rossi went on a smart run and unleashed a cannon of a shot from 30 yards out that beat American goalkeeper Tim Howard just inside the post. Gorgeous!
Best save: Imagine what must have been going through the mind of Itumeleng Khune when David Villa stepped up to the penalty spot. It's an intimidating sight to see the Valencia striker 12 yards away, but the South African goalkeeper made a sensational diving save to deny Villa.
Best indiviudal performance: Step forward Fernando Torres. El Nino showed why is one of the best strikers in the world, scoring three goals in 11 minutes in Spain's 5-0 win over New Zealand.
Best surprise: Honestly, who thought that at the end of the day that we would be talking about the Americans earning a semifinal berth? Going into Sunday's slate of games, the U.S. was seen as a rank outsider, needing to win by at least three goals to have a chance at finishing second in Group B ahead of Italy and Egypt. But the Americans persevered and, buoyed by the news that Italy trailed 3-0 at the half, Bob Bradley's men continued to go at Egypt and were rewarded for their persistence with a 3-0 win.
Biggest surprise: World champions Italy being totally outlcassed in a 3-0 loss to Brazil and disgracefuly bowing out of the tournament in the first round.
Biggest upset: See above. Honourable mention to Egypt's 1-0 win over Italy, the first time the Italians lost to African oppositiion.
Bigget disappointment: Much was expected of Iraq, the reigning Asian champions, but Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic couldn't wield his magic, as the Iraqis went home without even scoring a goal in the tournament.
Best moment: To watch the New Zealand national team joyously celebrate and carry on as though they won after battling Iraq to a scoreless draw was something to see. New Zealand failed to score a goal in three matches in South Africa and finished dead last in Group A. But that didn't stop the Kiwis, who failed to win a single game in their two previous tournament appearances (1999 and 2003) from celebrating in style after earning the first ever point in nine contests at the Confederations Cup.