x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Rossi brace guides Italy to win

Guiseppe Rossi comes off the bench to earn Italy a 3-1 win over 10-man United States in the Confederations Cup.

Jonathan Spector of the US slides in on Italy's Gennaro Gattuso during their opening Confederations Cup match in South Africa.
Jonathan Spector of the US slides in on Italy's Gennaro Gattuso during their opening Confederations Cup match in South Africa.

Substitute Giuseppe Rossi scored a brace to help Italy mount a second-half recovery against 10-man United States and claim victory in their Confederations Cup debut in Pretoria. The world champions were trailing 1-0 at the break after Landon Donovan fired his side ahead from the penalty spot, despite the earlier dismissal of Ricardo Clark, who was given a straight red card for a foul on Gennaro Gattuso. But the introduction of Rossi just before the hour mark turned the game. The Villarreal striker blasted home from 30 yards to equalise, before Daniele De Rossi put Italy in front with 18 minutes left. Rossi then added the finishing touch in injury time as the Azzurri moved joint top of Group B alongside Brazil.

The Americans had the first opening after seven minutes when Donovan touched on a 20-yard free kick for Clint Dempsey, whose shot from the left flew narrowly over. Italy responded when De Rossi played a high ball through the middle which was headed back by Vincenzo Iaquinta to Alberto Gilardino, but the Fiorentina frontman fired straight at Tim Howard. Marcello Lippi's team continued to look the more dangerous going forward and, after Gattuso fired wide from long range, they were awarded a free kick on the right in the 20th minute. But Nicola Legrottaglie failed to make the most of the excellent delivery from Andre Pirlo, putting his near-post header wide. Shortly before the half-hour mark, Bob Bradley's men had two good chances to take the lead.

Both came from Donovan, who first played in Michael Bradley with a neat through ball, but after brushing off Mauro Camoranesi, his final shot was poor. LA Galaxy striker Donovan then put through Jozy Altidore, whose poor final touch let him down. In the 34th minute referee Pablo Pozo dismissed Clark after he brought down Gattuso, who looked to have made a meal of the challenge. Italy finally managed to put the ball in the net when Jonathan Bornstein wrong-footed Howard, but Camoranesi was offside as the two teams remained deadlocked. That changed in 42nd minute when Altidore was bundled over by Giorgio Chiellini in the box, leaving the referee no option but to award the spot-kick, which Donovan scored, sending Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way.

The Americans almost forced a second before the break when Bradley's shot swerved, forcing the Juventus goalkeeper to fumble before gathering. After the restart the Italians continued to struggle to break down their opponents' defence with the only opportunity in the first 10 minutes coming from a corner, which was headed wide by Iaquinta. Lippi threw on Riccardo Montolivo and Rossi in the 58th minute to try and change things up front. It proved a masterstroke as the striker scored with his first touch when he won the ball and from 30 yards blasted past Howard, who seemed to be off his line. Soon after, the Everton goalkeeper failed to deal with a Pirlo shot which was palmed into the path of Iaquinta, only for the final shot from the Juventus striker to sail over. De Rossi put his side ahead in the 72nd minute with an ambitious 30-yard shot from the left, which defender Oguchi Onyewu tried to clear but missed ? an error which fooled Howard too. Italy then showed their class at the death as Rossi finished from close range after Pirlo glided down the left and delivered a perfect cross for the striker to wrap up all three points. *PA Sport