Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 17th 2013 Contents A58
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, June 17, 2013
RIO DE JANEIRO---Mario Balotelli s strength and
rapidly developing talent powered Italy to a 2-1 vic-
tory over Mexico yesterday at the Confederations
In the 78th minute, Balotelli collected a perfectly
placed acrobatic pass from Emanuele Giaccherini
and muscled in between two defenders to break a
deadlock in the first official match at the renovated
Celebrating his 100th appearance with the national
team, Andrea Pirlo had given Italy the lead with one
of his trademark free kicks in the 27th. Mexico
equalised in the 34th minute, when Javier "Chicharito"
Hernandez converted a penalty kick after Andrea
Barzagli tripped Giovani Dos Santos.
"I was dreaming of a free-kick goal," Pirlo said.
"It was important to win the first match and now
we have three days to recuperate. It s nice to be
applauded in a legendary stadium like this."
In an entertaining Group A match, Italy dominated
possession while Mexico relied on counterattacks,
coming close when Andres Guardado hit the crossbar
in the 11th. Italy moved level with Brazil on three
points in the group after the hosts beat Japan 3-0
in the tournament opener Saturday.
The Azzurri had not impressed in their last two
matches, drawing with both the Czech Republic in
a World Cup qualifier and with Haiti upon arriving
in Brazil earlier this week, but Pirlo and Balotelli
made the difference this time.
For his 13th goal for Italy, Pirlo curled a spinning
shot over Mexico s wall into the top left corner after
Balotelli earned the foul that set up the dead-ball
shot from 30 metres (yards) out.
Mexico s equaliser came after Barzagli let Dos
Santos get by him to set up Hernandez s 33rd goal
in 51 appearances for Mexico. The 25-year-old Her-
nandez, who plays for Manchester United, is on
course to better the Mexico record of 42 goals held
by former great Jared Borgetti.
As usual, the temperamental Balotelli by turn mis-
behaved and by turn proved unstoppable.
At one point midway through the second half,
Balotelli kicked his boot across the area after being
thwarted by Mexico s stubborn defense.
BELO HORIZONTE---From a tiny island in the
South Pacific to the enormous country of Brazil,
a group of men from Tahiti is preparing to play
some of the best football teams in the world.
Tahiti s national team will make its debut at a
major FIFA tournament today when it plays African
champion Nigeria at the Confederations Cup.
Tahiti, one of the world s most remote islands
with a population of only 178,000, will be playing
against a nation of 170 million in front of a global
television audience of millions.
"We will write a page of international history,"
Tahiti coach Eddie Etaeta said through a translator.
"This will be our first very high level match."
Ranked 138th by FIFA, sandwiched between
Syria and Afghanistan, Tahiti qualified for the
World Cup warm-up tournament ahead of 2010
World Cup qualifier New Zealand by winning the
Oceania Nations Cup.
There is only one professional player in the
squad---Marama Vahirua. The striker, who is cur-
rently at Greek club Panthrakikos, is the only Tahit-
ian to ever play professionally outside the island.
But even for Vahirua, the trip to Brazil is a new
experience as the team gets surrounded by security,
quizzed by the world media, and readies to play
in some of the most famous venues in world sport.
Balotelli powers Italy
past Mexico 2-1
the ball to score
Cup group A
stadium in Rio
Tahiti debuts at major
But the AC Milan striker finally broke through as
the match appeared headed for a draw, holding off
Mexico captain Francisco Rodriguez then powering
past another defender, Hiram Mier, to slot the ball
in as he skidded across the grass. Much like at last
year s European Championship, when he scored both
goals in a 2-1 semifinal win over Germany and pulled
off his shirt after one of them, Balotelli reacted by
stripping off his jersey to show off his muscular
physique, earning a yellow card.
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