One goal. One hundredth appearance. One Andrea Pirlo.
Playing in the first competitive match at the newly renovated Maracana Stadium - one of the most iconic sites in world football - Pirlo scored Italy's opening goal against Mexico on Sunday in a 2-1 victory at the Confederations Cup.
''Andrea Pirlo is football for us,'' Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said, heaping praise on a player who has become synonymous with excellence. ''He's very down to earth, very normal, but he's always a fantastic player on the field.''
Pirlo was his usual midfield-maestro self in Italy's first match at the World Cup warm-up tournament, controlling play and distributing the ball to his teammates.
But instead of providing the pivotal pass for the first goal, he scored it himself, curling a 27th-minute free kick over the opposing wall and into the top left corner.
''I was dreaming of a free-kick goal,'' said Pirlo, who scored all five of his goals for Juventus this season from similar set-pieces. ''I c...