Brazil and Italy made to work
There was no shortage of excitement on Monday as Group B of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 started with a bang. The four teams on view at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein and Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria served up plenty of entertainment and goals in two exciting, closely contested matches.
The day began with a brave and skilful Egypt side posing serious problems to Brazil, despite trailing 3-1 at half-time. The Egyptians made light of that deficit to pull level shortly after the restart and it was not until Kaka stroked home an injury-time penalty kick that Dunga's men restored their advantage and made sure of the points.
There were similar problems for Italy in the evening game. Despite being reduced to ten men early on, opponents USA took the lead just before half-time, with the Italians only making their numerical advantage count in the final 30 minutes. Ironically it was US-born forward Giuseppe Rossi who made the difference, the Villarreal man coming off the bench to score a decisive brace.
Click on the link on the right-hand side to read the reports from both games.
Goal of the day
Brazil-Egypt, Kaka 5': What made Brazil's struggles all the more surprising was the fact that they seemed to have done the hard part in taking the lead after only five minutes. Played in by Dani Alves, Kaka treated the Bloemfontein crowd to a wondrous piece of skill, controlling the ball with his left foot, flicking it over defender Hani Said, stealing it away from Wael Gomaa with the toe of his right boot and then stabbing it past the advancing Essam El Hadary for a goal as beautiful as it was clinical.
Ahmed Al Muhamadi's handball, (89'): Egypt's hopes a securing a notable result against the five-time world champions were dashed when the ENPPI midfielder was left with no choice but to save a Lucio volley on the line with his right arm. Al Muhamadi's instinctive reaction, which turned out to be in vain, earned him a red card and suspension.
Landon Donovan's spot-kick ceremony, (40'): Few sportsmen are as superstitious as footballers, and if anyone doubted that all they had to do was watch the American forward prepare for his first-half penalty against Italy. Getting down on his knees, Donovan kissed his wrists and his fists before rising to his feet and sending Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way.
Marcello Lippi's coaching masterstroke, (57'): With his side trailing 1-0 to USA, Lippi showed his powers of perception remain intact by bringing off Mauro Camoranesi and Gennaro Gattuso for Riccardo Montolivo and Giuseppe Rossi and sparking an Italian revival. While the Fiorentina man brought a touch of class to the Azzurri midfield, the diminutive Rossi hauled his side back into the game with a thundering equaliser and made sure of the points with a cool finish right on the final whistle.
3 - The number of times that two goals have been scored in a minute in a FIFA Confederations Cup match. Mohamed Shawky and Mohamed Zidan struck in 60 seconds against Brazil this afternoon, the first time the feat had been achieved in the tournament since Alex grabbed a quick-fire double in Brazil's 4-0 defeat of Germany in 1999. Two years earlier Braulio Luna and Cuauhtemoc Blanco swelled Mexico's goal tally in a 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia in double-quick time.
For a more in-depth statistical look at the day's action, be sure to read FIFA.com's ‘Day 2 in numbers' piece. Click on the link on the right hand side for the full story.
In the crowd
Right behind Brazil in the first half at Bloemfontein, the South African fans at the Free State Stadium showed their appreciation of good football by giving their full support to the battling Egyptians as they staged a stirring comeback after the break. With a vociferous contingent of their own fans also urging them on, Mohamed Aboutrika and Co could have been forgiven for thinking they were playing in Cairo at times.
"This is just more proof that the gap between the 'strong' nations and 'weak' nations in world football is smaller than ever. Every major football nation has got gifted players nowadays," DarkTint, writing in the EMIRATES MatchCast during the Brazil-Egypt game.
Have your say
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