Confederations Cup

Confederations Cup – Italy stunned by Egypt

Egypt scored their greatest ever victory in Johannesburg with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win over world champions Italy who had never previously lost to an African team.

FOOTBALL Egypt's Mohamed Hommos celebrates with team mates after scoring against Italy during their Confederations Cup match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg - 0

The shock result means Group B in the Confederations Cup hangs in the balance with all four teams still able to progress to next week’s semi-finals.

Mohamed Hommos’s goal five minutes before halftime clinched the first points of the tournament for the African champions, who narrowly lost 4-3 to Brazil in their opening game.

Most of the Egyptians and coach Hassan Shehata shed tears of joy at the final whistle as they became the first African side in 15 attempts to beat the Italians.

Key second half saves from veteran goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari, who had an inspired match, kept the Italians at bay while Vincenzo Iaquinta hit the crossbar with just minutes remaining as Egypt weathered a late onslaught.

Brazil, who beat the United States in Pretoria earlier on Thursday, lead the standings with six points while Italy and Egypt have three.

Brazil and Italy meet in Pretoria on Sunday while the Egyptians play the Americans, who have yet to pick up a point, in Rustenburg at the same time.

Despite losing both games the US still have a remote chance of getting through to the last four.

Lippi made five changes to the team that started against the US with the return of fit-again captain Fabio Cannavaro, winning his 124th cap – two short of Paolo Maldini‘s all-time Italian record of 126.

Cannavaro, typically, added steel to the Italian defence, while Giuseppe Rossi, who came on as a substitute and scored twice against the US, added youthful zest to the attack.

Both teams enjoyed plenty of possession in their first meeting since Italy beat Egypt 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier 55 years ago, but it was a still a real surprise when the Egyptians took the lead five minutes before the break.

Italy only had themselves to blame, leaving Hommos unmarked to score with a powerful header from Mohamed Aboutrika’s perfect inswinging corner.

The Italians had also trailed the US 1-0 at the break in their opening match, before coming back strongly to win.

But Egypt held their nerve and their ground despite Italy bringing in attacking reinforcements Luca Toni, Simone Pepe and Riccardo Montolivo in the second half.

They might have known it was not to be their night when El Hadari made two fine stops in two minutes in the first half from Iaquinta after 24 minutes and Rossi, who forced the keeper into another fine save when he palmed the ball over the bar.

Egypt, despite winning only once in their last five matches and getting off to a poor start in their final World Cup qualifying group, never looked overawed by the Italians.

Mohamed Shawky and Sayed Moawad gave as good as they got in the midfield battle for supremacy, with Italy’s Gennaro Gattuso,

De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo battling to cope with the inventiveness of the African champions’ approach play.

Both teams threatened after the break, and El Hadari made another excellent save from Montolivo after 74 minutes to keep Egypt in the lead.

Iaquinta almost equalised for Italy five minutes from time, only to see his long range curling shot hit the bar and Italy’s hopes of winning the game bounce away with it.

Confederations Cup – Confederations Cup fixtures

A full list of fixtures and results for the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.

FOOTBALL 2008 Euro 2008 Germany-Spain trophy - 0


Sunday June 14 – Group A

Johannesburg – South Africa 0-0 Iraq

Rustenburg – New Zealand 0-5 Spain

Monday June 15 – Group B

Bloemfontein – Brazil 4-3 Egypt

Pretoria – USA 1-3 Italy

Wednesday June 17 – Group A

Bloemfontein – Spain 1-0 Iraq

Rustenburg – South Africa 2-0 New Zealand

Thursday June 18 – Group B

Tshwane/Pretoria – USA 0-3 Brazil

Johannesburg – Egypt 1-0 Italy

Saturday June 20 – Group A

Johannesburg – 19:30 – Iraq v New Zealand

Mangaung/Bloemfontein – 19:30 – Spain v South Africa

Sunday June 21 – Group B

Tshwane/Pretoria – 19:30 – Italy v Brazil

Rustenburg – 19:30 – Egypt v USA


Wednesday June 24

Mangaung/Bloemfontein – 19:30 – Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B

Thursday June 25

Johannesburg – 19:30 – Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A


Sunday June 28

Rustenburg – 14:00


Sunday June 28

Confederations Cup – Brazil close in on semis

Brazil produced a stellar performance to hammer the United States 3-0 and close in on the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup in South Africa.

FOOTBALL 2009 - Brazilian defender Maicon scores against the USA in the Confederations Cup - 0

First-half goals from Felipe Melo and Robinho were added to in the second by the excellent right-back Maicon after the US had been reduced to 10 men for the second match running.

Brazil were on top from the opening seconds, sending in free-kicks and crosses which had the USA defending desperately.

The States had earlier in the week impressed with 10 men against world champions Italy, even taking the lead, but with a full quota they struggled against the Brazilians’ natural flair.

Ramires was a danger bursting from midfield while Kaka pulled the strings and Maicon attacked constantly, linking with the irrepressible Robinho.

After seven minutes they had the lead. Ramires won the ball as the Americans tried to pass the ball out of defence and won a free-kick on the right, which Maicon whipped in. Melo rose unmarked to nod past Tim Howard.

Jay DeMerit blocked a first-time effort from Robinho as the pressure continued, and it was the Manchester City star who found the back of the net for 2-0.

Kaka instigated a counter-attack at pace, sending away Ramires on the right; the Benfica midfielder squared the ball to Robinho in the middle, who finished with aplomb.

Three minutes later Kaka – recently the subject of a big-money move to Real Madrid from Milan – took the ball on a dazzling dribble, skinning several players on the outside before turning it into the left side netting with Howard narrowing the angle.

The South African crowd were enjoying the show, blaring their distinctive trumpets as US captain Landon Donovan sought in vain to initiate an attack.

Panathinaikos midfielder Gilberto Silva should have made it three before the break after Maicon found his head unmarked in the box, but he nodded over.

US coach Bob Bradley threw on Conor Casey for the ineffective DaMarcus Beasley at the break and the States initially fared better, getting stuck in and closing the space available to Dunga’s side.

However, that approach left them a man down when Sacha Kljestan went through Ramires with a late challenge as play continued and Kaka saw a majestic shot beaten away by Howard.

It took Swiss referee Massimo Busacca a couple of minutes to make up his mind – the tackle could feasibly have resulted in either a caution or a sending off – and in the end, with Ramires carried off briefly, a red card was issued.

Just after the hour-mark, the US paid the price. Maicon surged forward and found Ramires, who passed straight to Kaka. The ball was set up for the onrushing Internazionale full-back, whose shot was deflected slightly into the goal.

It was little more than a training exercise for Confederations Cup holders Brazil – looking for a third trophy in the competition – but they had a pair of scares at the end.

First Benny Feilhaber struck the underside of the bar after Jonathan Spector had nutmegged a defender near the right corner and played a one-two with Donovan.

And the woodwork was hit again when LA Galaxy star Donovan’s free-kick was met by Casey in the dying moments of the match.

Confederations Cup – Spain on brink of world record

European champions Spain will set a world record of 15 successive wins if they beat hosts South Africa in their final Confederations Cup Group A match on Saturday.

FOOTBALL 2009 Confederations Cup Spain David Villa - 0

“This is important and although we are not constantly talking about it, we know we have a possibility to go down in history with this winning streak,” coach Vicente del Bosque said.

“These kind of records can never be questioned. They are hard fact that will be there for all to see.”

If Spain avoid defeat they will also match Brazil’s mark of 35 consecutive matches without losing.

“Once you have winning form it becomes important to keep up the momentum … and make the team unbeatable,” said reserve goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Del Bosque, though, hinted he might rest some players with Spain already sure of their semi-final place.

“This is an ideal situation to make some changes, giving some a break because we are not bothered about who we play in the semi-finals,” he said.

“South Africa have shown two different sides, more defensive against Iraq and more attacking against New Zealand. We believe they have some kind of magic, a real dynamic to their team.

“They are technically strong and have very powerful men in defence. Emotion is running high of course and they have their supporters behind them and for these reasons it will be a tough match.”

South Africa must avoid defeat to ensure they reach the last four. If they lose, Iraq will have a chance to qualify by beating New Zealand in Johannesburg.

~ by awbroady on June 19, 2009.

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