Italy's Mario Balotelli (2nd L) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Mexico at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro June 16, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Satiro Sodre (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) )
Italy continued to establish itself atop the soccer world with a dominant 2-1 victory over Mexico on Sunday.
The Azzurri dominated possession throughout the match and exposed the Mexican side's dysfunctional defense time and again. The Italians scored their first goal 27 minutes in after forward Mario Balotelli was fouled outside the box. Midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo scored a trademark goal from the free kick that flew over the Mexican wall of defenders and into the upper left hand corner. Mexican keeper Jose Corona, who had a strong match overall, dove for the ball but seemed to give up at the last seconds and brought his hands down.
Despite being unable to generate quality chances, El Tri was fortunate enough to get one back when defenseman Andrea Barzagli misplayed a pass back to him and was beaten to the ball by Mexican forward Giovanni Dos Santos. The Mexican gained a step on Barzagli and the Italian defender had no choice but to take down his opponent. On the ensuing penalty shot, Javier Hernandez rifled a shot into the lower right-hand corner to even the score.
The Italians continued to dominate throughout the second half with Balotelli generating the majority of the chances. Balotelli would finish the game with seven shots; four of them reached the goal. He eventually scored the winning goal when he beat three Mexican defenders to the ball off a cross into the slot. Balotelli ripped his shirt off as part of his celebration and received a yellow card for his antics.
The Mexican side not only struggled to generate sustained pressure on its opponents but failed to assert control of the match at all. The poor play continues a disconcerting trend from the Mexican squad that has been apparent throughout its CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
Mexico takes on Brazil on Wednesday afternoon while Italy gets a chance to take down Japan in its upcoming game.