Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said there was work to do as his side came from two down to claim a thrilling 4-3 win against Japan in sultry Recife and book a place in the FIFA Confederations Cup semi-finals.
Japan went 2-0 up via Keisuke Honda's penalty and Shinji Kagawa's strike before the Azzurri responded in style, three goals in 12 minutes either side of half-time turning the game on its head. Daniele De Rossi headed in before Atsuto Uchida's own goal and Mario Balotelli's spot kick made it 3-2. Back came Japan, equalising through Shinji Okazaki but it was Italy who took the points as Sebastian Giovinco popped up four minutes from time to tuck in Claudio Marchisio's cross.
Even then Japan almost equalised again but Maya Yoshida's effort was ruled out for offside after Okazaki's shot had come back off the bar. Manchester United FC's Kagawa was also denied by the woodwork and a relieved Prandelli admitted his players were pushed to the limit. "Tonight we really, really struggled," he said. "We need to deal with the climate, it's really difficult. But I liked the way we suffered. We could have felt satisfied with ourselves but instead we wanted the win."
Victory seals progress from Group A alongside Brazil, who also made it two wins from two as FC Barcelona new boy Neymar's early volley set them on course for a 2-0 triumph over Mexico. The hosts meet Italy on Saturday. Spain could book their last-four place this evening when they face Tahiti in Group B.
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