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Brazil is best of Group A with win over Italy

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SALVADOR (BDCi) – – There’s no protesting the way Brazil is playing in the 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup as they pulled away from European champion Italy for a 4-2 win to capture first place in Group A and advance to the semi-finals.

The win extends Brazil’s undefeated streak against Italy to 30 years, but more relevantly eludes a semi-final match-up against Group B powerhouse Spain who are on track to win that group.

Scoring didn’t start until stoppage time in the first half when substitute Brazilian defender Dante one-touched a rebound past the Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon; replay showed Dante offsides after Neymar’s free kick, but nothing was called.

Italy tied the match in the 51st minute when Brazil’s defense was caught asleep on an Emanuele Giaccherini breakaway that left Brazil keeper Julio Cesar with few options.

Shortly thereafter, Neymar drew a free kick just outside of the area, and nailed a precise bended shot on the set play, just inside the far side of the net past Buffon to make the game 2-1. It was Neymar’s 3rd goal in as many matches, and he again was voted “man of the match”.

Perhaps the most underrated play of the contest came in the 66th minute when a fiercely defended Fred received a long pass from Marcelo in the area, controlled it and muscled it past Buffon to provide a cushion at 3-1.

A Giorgio Chiellini goal in the 71st minute brought Italy closer, and an Italian header hitting the cross bar in the 80th minute made for an equalizer scare. But Brazil pulled away for good in the 89th minute with Fred’s second goal, another rebound opportunity after Buffon could’t control the save.

”Brazil is ready for the semifinal,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. ”We’ve made it with a team with good technical and tactical quality and with a lot of confidence.”

If Spain beats Nigeria in Fortaleza Sunday, they will stay put to play Group A runner-up Italy while Brazil will likely play Uruguay in that scenario.

Much of the attention during the tournament has been towards the millions of Brazilians who have taken to the streets of the major cities to demand an end to the many aspects that corrupt governments create.

However if the Brazil men’s national soccer team can win their 3rd consecutive FIFA Confederation Cup, there just might be some street partying in the mix.

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