Confederations Cup: Italy book place in semi-finals after seven goal thriller against Japan

The European side won the match 4-3

Italy booked their semi-final place as they snatched a barely-deserved victory from a pulsating game in Recife to dump Japan out of the Confederations Cup.

Italy scored three times in 11 minutes either side of half-time, through Daniele De Rossi, Atsuto Uchida's own goal and Mario Balotelli's penalty after Japan had established a 2-0 lead courtesy of Keisuke Honda's spot-kick and Shinji Kagawa's neat finish.

Shinji Okazaki made it 3-3 in the 69th minute, but Sebastian Giovinco netted four minutes from the end to give Italy the points and ensure they will progress from Group A alongside hosts Brazil.

Japan's early dominance was rewarded in the 21st minute when, from a short Mattia De Sciglio backpass, Gianluigi Buffon stormed off his line to meet Okazaki, sliding into ball and player.

The referee hedged his bets by giving a penalty but not sending Buffon off, and Honda dispatched an unconvincing spot-kick past the goalkeeper.

It was 2-0 just after the half-hour mark as Kagawa took advantage of some uncertainty in the Italy defence, spinning and firing low past Buffon at the near post.

Having been outplayed for 40 minutes, Italy got themselves back in the game from a corner four minutes before the break.

Andrea Pirlo's outswinging delivery was perfect and De Rossi got ahead of his marker to thump a header past the keeper.

Italy almost levelled in first-half stoppage-time as Emanuele Giaccherini shot sharply on the turn, sending the ball against the base of the post.

But they did not have to wait long after the restart to get back on level terms as Japan handed them an equaliser.

Maya Yoshida attempted to shield the ball out of play, but Giaccherini stole it off him, centred the ball and a sliding Uchida poked the ball into his own net.

Moments later Italy were in the lead thanks to another controversial penalty.

Makoto Hasebe was harshly adjudged to have handled as he made a sliding block, and Balotelli converted from the spot.

Japan could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop but they were level again in the 69th minute when Okazaki made a great run to the near post to meet Yasuhito Endo's free-kick and headed home.

With nine minutes to play, Japan went agonisingly close to a fourth as Okazaki's shot from the edge of the box hit the post and the rebound went quickly to Kagawa, whose header bounced off the turf, on to the crossbar and away.

And they were made to pay as, against the run of play, substitute Giovinco turned home Claudio Marchisio's cross with four minutes remaining.

Still Japan almost equalised as Okazaki hit the bar and Yoshida converted the rebound, only to be denied by the offside flag.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen