Posted June 16, 2013 on AP on Fox
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 h...

Pirlo to get his 100th cap at Maracana

The Maracana stadium will be a fitting scene for Italy's midfield maestro to hit the century mark. Andrea Pirlo will make his 100th appearance for his national team when the Azzurri open their Confederations Cup campaign against Mexico on Sunday in Rio's renowned arena. The stadium has recently been renovated, and no longer has space for crowds approaching 200,000 spectators...

New-look Italy makes strong statement

The ageless Andrea Pirlo led Italy past Mexico at the Maracana Stadium 2-1 on Sunday, courtesy of a winner from Mario Balotelli. It was a complete, comprehensive performance from the 34-year-old superstar, who collected his 100th cap and a goal to round out a superb afternoon. It was also, for nearly seventy minutes, the best match played yet in this young Confederations Cup and...

Drury fits the bill for Crawley

Italy go into their second game of Group A against Japan on Wednesday knowing that a win will all but see them qualify for the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup. Mario Balotelli's drive and and a stunning free-kick from Andrea Pirlo - who was making his 100th appearance for the Azzurri - was enough to see off Mexico in their opening game. Japan - who recently qualified...

Mexico and Italy even at 1-1 at halftime

Javier Hernandez scored from the penalty spot shortly after Andrea Pirlo had curled in a free kick, leaving Mexico and Italy even at 1-1 at halftime on Sunday in Group A of the Confederations Cup. Hernandez converted from the spot in the 34th minute, shortly after Giovani Dos Santos was brought down by Andrea Barzagli. Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who had several chances of his...

Italy celebrates Brazilian style: at the beach

Italy players celebrated their Confederations Cup win over Mexico with a relaxing morning at the beach in Rio Nearly the entire Azzurri squad spent the morning after its 2-1 win relaxing on the sand, swimming amid large waves and playing beach volleyball - despite intermittent rain, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon led the way with his wife and two children, crossing the street from...
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