Italy no match for hosts
© Foto-net

Brazil underlined their title credentials in Maracanzhino with a 3-0 victory over Italy that allied tactical discipline to their traditional commitment to attack.

Keeping a clean sheet certainly seemed as high on the hosts' list of priorities as scoring goals, and in the end they were able to marry these two aims for a victory that should see them through to the semi-finals, depending on the outcome of Iran-Ukraine.

Although both sides showed a healthy respect for each other with their cautious gameplans, Brazil deserved credit for sticking to their usual formation, with two offensive players  - Marquinho and Lenisio - to Italy's one. There was, however, little to separate these sides during the early exchanges, and only when Betao grew in influence did the hosts begin to take a stranglehold.

Eventually, their dominance paid off when Schumacher ghosted into space at a corner and coolly converted a Marquinho cross to hand his side a 12th-minute lead. Italy were struggling to simply keep their heads above water at this stage and, just two minutes later, a second Brazilian goal left them with a mountain to climb, Lenisio slotting home following some great approach play by Wilde.

With both teams having lost a player to a red card - Betao for Brazil and Marcio Forte for Italy - the second half lacked the excitement and tension of the first, especially as Brazil were always in command. The outcome was effectively decided with ten minutes remaining, when Ari nipped in to pounce from close range after Falcao's initial shot had been spilled.