By DAN KARELL
If the Confederations Cup is truly a dry-run for the World Cup a year later, Italy may be a team expected to score some goals.
Three Italy players scored as the Italian National Team stormed back from two goals down before eventually defeating Japan, 4-3, at the Arena Pernambucano in Recife, Brazil. The victory qualified the Italians for the knockout stages of the tournament, while Japan was eliminated from progressing further.
Sebastian Giovinco scored the match winner in the 86th minute from close range, but the opening goal of the match came from the foot of Japan National Team attacker Keisuke Honda off a controversial penalty in the 22nd minute. In the 33, Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa put Japan up two goals with an acrobatic finish.
Italy scored one back before the end of the half when midfielder Daniele De Rossi headed home an Andrea Pirlo corner kick in the 41st minute. On the other side of halftime, Italy leveled the scoreline in the 50th minute when midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini passed across the face of goal, only for Japan defender Atsuto Uchida to send the ball into his own net.
Three minutes later, Mario Balotelli converted a penalty kick to give Italy their first lead of the day, though it only lasted until the 69th minute, when Shinji Okazaki sent a flick header for a goal to tie the match. Giovinco then came to the rescue for Italy, finishing a low cross into an empty goal in the 86th minute that would hold to give Italy the victory.
Here are some more stories to get your Thursday started:
NEYMAR STARS AS BRAZIL TOPS MEXICO
Neymar’s upcoming move to Barcelona might have been just what the 21-year-old needed.
After being held scoreless in nine matches for club and country, Brazil’s brightest star finally has the swagger and confidence of a player who can compete on the biggest of stages, having scored in two matches in a row and showing no signs of stopping.
Neymar topped his first match performance against Japan with a goal and an assist on Wednesday against Mexico in a 2-0 victory at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza in the Confederations Cup. The result moves Luis Felipe Scolari’s side on to the next round, while Mexico crash out of the tournament, having lost for the second time in a row.
Neymar scored the opener, as an emotional Brazil played with an incredible amount of energy and high pressure that Mexico could not match. A poor clearance in the box fell to Neymar in the ninth minute, finishing with a blast on the volley that Mexico goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona had no chance of stopping.
Late in the match, the soon-to-be Barcelona player stepped up to hand Brazil the three points and put the match beyond reach, as he used his shifty footwork to evade two Mexico defenders, fake a shot, and center the ball in the box to teammate Jo, who finished easily in the 93rd minute.
CAPELLO TURNS DOWN PSG
Paris Saint-Germain’s search for a manager next season will have to continue.
After offering Russia National Team manager Fabio Capello a 12-month contract to join PSG, the Italian rejected the deal, preferring to stay with Russia through the World Cup, according to reports.
PSG had already tried to court Andre Villas-Boas away from Tottenham before the Portuguese manager decided to stay at White Hart Lane. Reports now have Swansea City’s Michael Laudrup, former Netherlands boss Marco Van Basten, and free agent Frank Rijkaard as the next candidates the PSG ownership group will look towards.
PSG’s current manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is seemingly on his way to Real Madrid, leaving the club who just won only their third ever league title to find a new man in charge. The Qatar-based ownership group has their sights set on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, but the Frenchman has pledge to the English club to see out his contract, which ends in 2014.
LIONEL MESSI SUMMONED TO COURT OVER TAX FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been asked to appear in a Spanish court this September over alleged tax fraud.
The court says that Messi and his family owe more than $5.2 million in unpaid taxes to the State, as according to the allegations, the Messi’s used companies in Uruguay, Belize, and Switzerland, and the UK to evade the tax authorities and hide their income.
Messi, currently on break after a long season and a recent string of international matches, has denied all accusations against him.
Violent protests outside the Estadio Castelao marred the Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Mexico. (REPORT)
In addition to Gonzalo Higuain, Arsenal are preparing another La Liga signing, as they prepare to bid for the services of Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi. (REPORT)
Newell’s Old Boys have clinched the Argentine Primera Division title after second-placed Lanus were defeated in a resumed match on Wednesday, 2-0. (REPORT)
What do you make of these reports? Impressed by Italy’s goal scoring? Do you see Neymar’s form continuing? Who do you see taking over at PSG?
Share your thoughts below.