By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Seleção (Brazilian national team) will meet Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup Final after the world and European champions scraped past Italy 7-6 on penalties at the Arena Castelão in Fortaleza. The game finished 0-0 following extra time and after twelve successive spot kicks Bonucci smashed his attempt over the bar for the Italians.
Winger Jesús Navas, who recently joined English club Manchester City from Sevilla, scored the winning penalty to send Spain into the final. The result was harsh on Italy, who had been the better side for large portions of the game.
Twice they hit the woodwork as midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo put in a world class performance. He outshone Spanish counterparts Xavi and Iniesta and if it had not been for a clinical striker, Italy could have well made it to the final.
The first half was almost entirely dominated by Italy but they just could not find a breakthrough, Marchisio missing the best chance when he headed directly at Casillas only yards from the goal. Even when Iker Casillas was stumped in the Spanish goal, the ball cannoned back off the woodwork.
Spain began the second half at a much quicker tempo. Pedro was given two chances to break the deadlock but the Italian defense was watertight.
As the match wore down, chances became fewer and far between. Both sides looked to be playing for penalties as fatigue appeared to set in.
When they came, the delivery was nigh on perfect. The first twelve takers all converted their efforts before Bonucci fluffed his lines and set up the dream final between hosts Brazil and the greatest team on the planet.
The final is at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã this Sunday, June 30th. Kick-off is at 7PM.
Read more ( in Portuguese).
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