Robinho's ingenuity stuns Italy

Brazil 2 Italy 0
Click to follow

Luiz Felipe Scolari may have left Chelsea but there was still one happy Brazilian manager in London last night. On the evidence of how Carlos Dunga got his men to play, he could even end up on Roman Abramovich's wish-list one day, as Brazil – Manchester City, even, in goalscorers Robinho and Elano – beat the World Cup holders.

It was sparkling stuff as, for more than an hour, the selecao enchanted the Emirates Stadium. The joke swiftly did the rounds that this was the only way to see entertaining football these days at Arsenal's ground. But even in their fluid pomp, Arsène Wenger's side could not match the feats displayed by Ronaldinho, Robinho et al.

This was never going to be an ordinary friendly, from the moment in the second minute when Ronaldinho skied – dare one say mistimed – a quick pass and Antonio Di Natale, neat as you like, backheeled perfectly to Fabio Grosso.

Three minutes later, Grosso, one of the coolest heads in world football, showed equal technique and was arguably denied a legitimate goal. Grosso eliminated hosts Germany with a curled strike in the semi-finals of the last World Cup. In the final, in Berlin three years ago, against France, he went one better, converting the penalty in the shoot-out that gave Italy their fourth World Cup.

Here, having advanced from left-back, he calmly volleyed Andrea Pirlo's delightful long ball, beating Julio Cesar at his near post, only for the linesman's offside flag to spoil his pleasure.

In the 13th minute the interweaving runs and passing of what was almost a front four saw the South Americans take the lead. Fabio Cannavaro, the Italy captain, had already made two tackles of the sort that inspired his country to victory in Berlin in 2006, but when his partner, Nicola Legrottaglie, was needed, he was found wanting.

Ronaldinho started the move, finding Elano, who dinked it back to Robinho. The £32m winger, the most expensive in the Premier League, slipped his pass towards Elano, Legrottaglie could only push it further into his path and Elano slipped it under Gianluigi Buffon's body.

Robinho was not to be outdone by his Manchester City team-mate 14 minutes later. He may have gone wandering from his Spanish training camp with City a couple of weeks ago but he was present and correct in north London, producing what his compatriots call a golaco, a "wonder goal".

Pirlo was lackadaisical in taking the ball out of defence and Robinho dispossessed him. Having Pirlo on his back and two defenders in front posed the former Real Madrid forward no problems, as a jink and a drag-back later he found the inside of Buffon's far post with his left foot.

Italy attempted a response 10 minutes later. Daniele De Rossi tried his luck from 25 yards, but Cesar pushed his shot away for a corner.

Some of their previous World Cup meetings lead to a fascination with this fixture. While Brazil triumphed in the 1970 final in Mexico with arguably the greatest team ever seen, 12 years later the two sides produced a match of greater drama in Spain, won by Italy 3-2. Despite two late efforts by Grosso and Luca Toni, there was to be no repeat of that famous day for Italy.

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar; Maicon (both Internazionale), Lucio (Bayern Munich), Juan (Roma), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Gilberto (Panathinaikos), Melo (Fiorentina); Elano (Manchester City), Ronaldinho (Milan), Robinho (Manchester City); Adriano (Internazionale).

Substitutes used: D Alves (Barcelona) for Elano, 70; Thiago (Milan) for Juan, 78; Pato (Milan) for Adriano, 81; Baptista (Roma) for Robinho, 88; Josue (Wolfsburg) for Gilberto, 88.

Italy (4-1-4-1): Buffon (Juventus); Zambrotta (Milan), Legrottaglie (Juventus), Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Grosso (Lyon); Pirlo (Milan); Pepe (Udinese), De Rossi (Roma), Montolivo (Fiorentina), Di Natale (Udinese); Gilardino (Fiorentina). Substitutes used: Toni (Bayern Munich) for Gilardino, h-t; G Rossi (Villarreal) for Di Natale, h-t; Camoranesi (Juventus) for Pepe, h-t; Perrotta (Roma) for Montolivo, h-t; Aquilani (Roma) for De Rossi, 58; Dossena (Liverpool) for Pirlo, 75.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).