Brazil humiliates Italy to win Group B
The Italians looked nothing like defending World Cup champions while being thoroughly outclassed 3-0 by Brazil Sunday at the Confederations Cup in Pretoria, South Africa.
Forward Luis Fabiano led the offensive onslaught with a pair of goals, while Italian defender Andrea Dossena scored Brazil's third goal into his own net.
"Our team showed physically, technically and in all aspects that it was superior to a great team, a team which is the current world champion," Brazil coach Dunga said.
Brazil wins Group B with nine points and moves into the semifinal against host South Africa on Thursday in Bloemfontein (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2:30 p.m. ET).
Italy's dismal performance allowed the U.S. to sneak into the first semifinal meeting with Spain on Wednesday in Johannesburg (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2:30 p.m. ET).
"I feel a little bitter and even the players are saddened," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said. "They didn't portray a very nice image of Italy, but we know the image of Italy is not the one we portrayed in these three matches.
"We tried but we didn't make it."
The Americans, who defeated Egypt 3-0 on Sunday, tied both Italy and Egypt with three points in Group B, but advanced by scoring one more goal than the Azzurri.
This storied rivalry — which Brazil leads with seven wins, five losses and two draws — failed to live up to the immense hype.
After coming close several times in the first half, Brazil exploded with three goals in a seven-minute span.
Maicon slid a nice ball to Fabiano, who quickly turned and fired a shot by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in the 37th minute.
"I'm very happy for having scored and with the match Brazil played," Fabiano said. "It comes from a lot of effort and a lot of work."
Italy complained to officials that the play was offside, but replays showed the Brazilian was in good position.
Before Italy could regain its bearings, Brazil struck again just six minutes later to go up by a pair.
As part of a nifty give-and-go play to the left of the Italian net, Kaka sent a cross that rolled to Fabiano, who easily buried his second goal of game into the open net.
"The difference between us and them is that we improved as the tournament has gone along," Kaka said. "Italy did the opposite."
Clearly unsettled by the scoring barrage, the Italians suffered another major defensive breakdown in the 45th minute to fall behind 3-0.
Robinho sprinted along the left side before sending a crossing pass into the box. In an attempt to prevent the pass by sliding toward the goal, Dossena inadvertently kicked the ball into his own net.
Italy's best offensive effort came early in the second half as Alberto Gilardino redirected a pass toward the Brazilian net, only to have goalie Julio Cesar deny the opportunity with the save.
In what turned out to be little consolation, Italian veteran captain Fabio Cannovaro equalled Paolo Maldini's mark for most national team appearances with his 126th cap on Sunday.
"It's very gratifying to still be a part of this squad," said the 35-year-old defender earlier this week. "It's always different wearing Italy's jersey, and matching someone like Paolo is really an honour."
With files from The Associated Press