By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Italy overcame Mexico 2-1 yesterday afternoon in the first competitive fixture at the reopened Maracanã. Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli scored either side of Javier Hernández’s equalizer for the Mexicans.
The result means Italy join Brazil on three points in Group A. The Brazilians sit top on goal difference after hammering Japan 3-0 on Saturday.
Italy were on top throughout the game’s opening exchanges. Mexico could not keep the ball in midfield and Balotelli went close to scoring on more than one occasion, with three shots in the first eight minutes.
Pirlo opened the scoring with a trademark free-kick on 26 minutes. The goal came on the day he was playing his 100th match for the Italian national team.
However, Mexico were given a lifeline when Giovani dos Santos was fouled by Barzagli inside the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot and Hernández leveled the scores from the spot.
After the interval, Mexico pushed further far more than they had managed during the first half, but in going on the attack, they left themselves too open in midfield, with Montolivo threatening to restore Italy’s lead.
Italy’s technical class was too great in the end, and Mario Balotelli was to make the difference thirteen minutes from time. Latching onto Giaccherini’s pass, he surged passed a defender before slotting past Corono to take the points.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.