Fred brace powers Brazil into semis
Salvador de Bahia (AFP): An inspired second-half showing from Brazil earned the Confederations Cup hosts a 4-2 win over Italy in Salvador to win Group...
Salvador de Bahia (AFP): An inspired second-half showing from Brazil earned the Confederations Cup hosts a 4-2 win over Italy in Salvador to win Group A and avoid a potential semifinal meeting with Spain. The dubious honour of facing the world champions in a Thursday semis in Fortaleza is now likely to be Italy's fate assuming the Spanish, with two wins under their belts ahead of their final meeting with Nigeria, top Group B. Brazil made it three wins in three games at the event to earn a probable semifinal with Uruguay in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday. Brazil started looking like a side who had been energised not just by their opening wins and clean sheets against Japan and Mexico but also the waves of popular protest by citizens demanding better social policies and an end to state corruption. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari indicated he saw the pieces slowly falling into place although he has made the World Cup the overriding top priority rather than success this month. Looking to cheer the nation, the whole Brazil squad sang the national anthem with gusto and then set about chasing an early goal. An early Oscar flick sent in Neymar, but theBarcelona-bound striker fired wide and then picked up a yellow card after a clumsy challenge on Italian fullback Ignazio Abate. On the half hour Italy made an early change in sending on Emmanuele Giaccherini to replace Riccardo Montolivo before Brazil also had to reshuffle the pack as broken nose victim from their previous match, David Luiz, went off with a knock, giving way to Dante. Italy then lost Abate to a suspected dislocated shoulder, Christian Maggio coming on, before Brazil took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Neymar fired over a freekick from the left, Fred saw Gigi Buffon parry but Dante followed up and the Bayern Munich player bundled home. Italy had been confined to their hotel for part of their preparations owing to security fears amid the mass demonstrations sweeping Brazil over the cost of staging the event and next year's World Cup. Although the protests showed no sign of ending with tens of thousands more in the streets in Saturday's Japan versus Mexico venue of Belo Horizonte, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli insisted that there was no question of the Azurri packing up and going home.