Brazil resisted a stirring fightback by Italy as they won 4-2 to seal top spot in FIFA Confederations Cup Group A at Cesare Prandelli's side's expense.
The Azzurri trailed 1-0 at the interval after a lacklustre first-half performance was exacerbated by Dante's goal just before the break. Emanuele Giaccherini equalised soon after the restart and though Brazil hit back through Neymar's free-kick and a Fred effort, Giorgio Chiellini made it 3-2. Christian Maggio almost equalised, heading against the bar, before Fred put an absorbing encounter to bed two minutes from time.
Both teams had already booked a last-four place before the meeting in Salvador and the lack of intensity preyed on Italy early on as their early play was littered with mistakes. They were on the back foot from the off, the early introduction of Giaccherini to beef up the midfield initially failing to stem the tide. They resisted until the 45th minutes when Dante, on for the injured David Luiz, slotted in the rebound, after Gianluigi Buffon had brilliantly kept out Fred' close-range header.
Giaccherini soon made it 1-1 after the restart with a blistering drive, but Neymar restored order with an even better effort, deceiving Buffon with a terrific free-kick. Fred added another in some style; Chiellini replied with an effort more for fans of substance. It was so nearly 3-3, Maggio crashing a header against the bar as Italy finished strong, but when Buffon failed to hold onto a Marcelo shot, Fred was on hand to convert.
Italy will now face the winner of Group B in the semi-finals on Thursday, with Spain their likely opponents in a repeat of the UEFA EURO 2012 final. The world and European champions will win their section if they earn a point against Nigeria on Sunday.
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