Thursday Kickoff: Italy tops Japan in seven-goal thriller; Neymar puts on a show in Brazil victory; and more

ItalyJapanConfedsCupMarchisio1 (Getty)


If the Confederations Cup is truly a dry-run for the World Cup a year later, Italy may be a team expected to score some goals.

Three Italy players scored as the Italian National Team stormed back from two goals down before eventually defeating Japan, 4-3, at the Arena Pernambucano in Recife, Brazil. The victory qualified the Italians for the knockout stages of the tournament, while Japan was eliminated from progressing further.

Sebastian Giovinco scored the match winner in the 86th minute from close range, but the opening goal of the match came from the foot of Japan National Team attacker Keisuke Honda off a controversial penalty in the 22nd minute. In the 33, Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa put Japan up two goals with an acrobatic finish.

Italy scored one back before the end of the half when midfielder Daniele De Rossi headed home an Andrea Pirlo corner kick in the 41st minute. On the other side of halftime, Italy leveled the scoreline in the 50th minute when midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini passed across the face of goal, only for Japan defender Atsuto Uchida to send the ball into his own net.

Three minutes later, Mario Balotelli converted a penalty kick to give Italy their first lead of the day, though it only lasted until the 69th minute, when Shinji Okazaki sent a flick header for a goal to tie the match. Giovinco then came to the rescue for Italy, finishing a low cross into an empty goal in the 86th minute that would hold to give Italy the victory.

Here are some more stories to get your Thursday started:


Neymar’s upcoming move to Barcelona might have been just what the 21-year-old needed.

After being held scoreless in nine matches for club and country, Brazil’s brightest star finally has the swagger and confidence of a player who can compete on the biggest of stages, having scored in two matches in a row and showing no signs of stopping.

Neymar topped his first match performance against Japan with a goal and an assist on Wednesday against Mexico in a 2-0 victory at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza in the Confederations Cup. The result moves Luis Felipe Scolari’s side on to the next round, while Mexico crash out of the tournament, having lost for the second time in a row.

Neymar scored the opener, as an emotional Brazil played with an incredible amount of energy and high pressure that Mexico could not match. A poor clearance in the box fell to Neymar in the ninth minute, finishing with a blast on the volley that Mexico goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona had no chance of stopping.

Late in the match, the soon-to-be Barcelona player stepped up to hand Brazil the three points and put the match beyond reach, as he used his shifty footwork to evade two Mexico defenders, fake a shot, and center the ball in the box to teammate Jo, who finished easily in the 93rd minute.


Paris Saint-Germain’s search for a manager next season will have to continue.

After offering Russia National Team manager Fabio Capello a 12-month contract to join PSG, the Italian rejected the deal, preferring to stay with Russia through the World Cup, according to reports.

PSG had already tried to court Andre Villas-Boas away from Tottenham before the Portuguese manager decided to stay at White Hart Lane. Reports now have Swansea City’s Michael Laudrup, former Netherlands boss Marco Van Basten, and free agent Frank Rijkaard as the next candidates the PSG ownership group will look towards.

PSG’s current manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is seemingly on his way to Real Madrid, leaving the club who just won only their third ever league title to find a new man in charge. The Qatar-based ownership group has their sights set on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, but the Frenchman has pledge to the English club to see out his contract, which ends in 2014.


Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been asked to appear in a Spanish court this September over alleged tax fraud.

The court says that Messi and his family owe more than $5.2 million in unpaid taxes to the State, as according to the allegations, the Messi’s used companies in Uruguay, Belize, and Switzerland, and the UK to evade the tax authorities and hide their income.

Messi, currently on break after a long season and a recent string of international matches, has denied all accusations against him.


Violent protests outside the Estadio Castelao marred the Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Mexico. (REPORT)

In addition to Gonzalo Higuain, Arsenal are preparing another La Liga signing, as they prepare to bid for the services of Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi. (REPORT)

Newell’s Old Boys have clinched the Argentine Primera Division title after second-placed Lanus were defeated in a resumed match on Wednesday, 2-0. (REPORT)


What do you make of these reports? Impressed by Italy’s goal scoring? Do you see Neymar’s form continuing? Who do you see taking over at PSG?

Share your thoughts below.


This entry was posted in Confederations Cup, European Soccer, Featured, International Soccer, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Italy tops Japan in seven-goal thriller; Neymar puts on a show in Brazil victory; and more

  1. Old School says:

    Mexico sure did their best job to break Neymar’s will….and leg. Unfortunately, they failed at both.

    However, the rest of the World gets to see what we deal with each time we play Mexico now (of course, minus the random bags of urine/vomit thrown at our players and our supporters).

    Mexico does not represent CONCACAF, does not represent the United States and I certainly don’t cheer for them for this exact reason.

    Of course, I would have rather had the US at the Confederations Cup, but a nice consolations prize is seeing their team fall flat on their face and possibly have their manager fired.

    Golden Generation!

    • SanFran415 says:

      It was relentless. At any opportunity they would put studs into him or sweep his legs out or hit him with an elbow. It was disgraceful that the official let that go on.

      Torres Nilo should have been ejected early in the game when he intentionally put his studs into Neymar’s back after Neymar was fouled by the other Mexican who I cannot remember.

      • Old School says:

        To me, that foul you’re referencing is just par for the course for Mexico.

        If you watch closely for 90 minutes, that type of garbage is extremely common and the ref misses it every time. Why? Because it’s a practiced art of poor sportsmanship by Mexico.

        However, for me? The most egregious foul was Hector Herrera in the 89th minute. If anyone has the game on DVR, go back and watch that foul. It’s disgusting and was a blatant attempt to severely injure Neymar.

        Of course, I’m never one to bite my tongue but this display and general lack of class is why it genuinely gets my blood boiling that we have US Supporters openly supporting Mexico because they believe it helps the US in the grand scheme of things (which is a fallacy, since rankings are largely irrelevant: see our World Cup Group Standings).

        Have you ever witnessed a Mexico Supporter wishing the US well in a tournament? For the record, that’s rhetorical question. It does not happen.

        • SanFran415 says:

          Was that on the left side of the field near the half line where Herrera came in after Neymar moved the ball on and put his studs through his shin?

          • Old School says:

            I’m not at home to review it again but I recall him hitting him as high as the hamstring with no regard for going for the ball.

            I do recall it was in the 89th minute though, if you get a chance to double check it.

            • SanFran415 says:

              Yeah we’re talking about the same thing–I’m probably mistaken about where he made contact. Neymar’s leg was a bit extended yes?

              That was a vicious tackle.

              • Old School says:

                Believe so. The aggression in his face is what I remember the most.

                If anyone wants see the difference between a “professional foul” and a unprofessional foul, look no further.

      • Common Sense says:

        Not that I condone what Mexico did, if they did in fact as a team decide part of their game plan was to injure Neymar, I seem to recall Jermaine Jones dishing out a pretty crushing tackle on Neymar in the US’s last friendly.

        I think Neymar is the kind of player that can bring out the bully in any opponent.

        • Old School says:

          Hard fouls =/= pure intent to injure.

          There’s a very distinct difference and it’s visible by simply watching the match (or replaying it).

          Of course you’re entitled to your own opinion but I couldn’t disagree more with the comparison.

        • SanFran415 says:

          Jones brings it no question, but he is a tough, hard tackler. I see a big difference in tough play versus cheap play. Mexico was trying to hurt him with non-footballing plays.

          • Sean357 says:

            Also remember Marcelo was hacking at our players constantly. Jones put his tackle on Neymar to send a message to Marcelo more than anything and though it was a hard foul he didn’t and didn’t intend to injure him in my opinion.

            • MidWest Ref says:

              Good comment. Jones is almost like a hockey player in his outlook to the game. There are fouls, but there are also dirty plays. Jones will retaliate if he thinks he has been the victim of a dirty play

              • ld says:

                Jones tackle on Neymar was not a footballing play, it was an unneccessary and deliberate nasty challenge that Neymar was lucky to not have been seriously injured from, and should have been a definite red card and suspension if thats possible from a friendly.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                bet you can’t tell who the mexico fan is on this thread.

            • Joamiq says:

              I think we’re letting Jones off the hook a bit too much. Being overly reckless, which I think Jones often is, is not much better than intending to hurt people.

          • Old School says:

            @Natedollars: Lol.

        • GW says:

          Common S.

          As Sean 357 points out, Jones’ foul on Neymar was all about sending a message to Marcelo who is a cheap shot, irritating, pr++k. Marcelo spent a lot of the US match pulling his crap on the USMNT.

          The message Jones sent was, “this is a friendly, ease up on the chippy stuff or something COULD happen to your prize billion dollar meal ticket”.

          Fouling Marcelo is a waste of good cleats, and he won’t notice and neither will anyone else. But Neymar maybe getting hurt? That will get everyone’s attention. And don’t think Jones is wouldn’t welcome Marcelo taking a shot at him and maybe getting red carded.

          USMNT fans are not a fan of the dark arts, they think Americans are too morally upright and are above that stuff but any team that hopes to contend needs to know how to deal with that sort of thing. And don’t think Brazil, Spain, Germany and other powers don’t know how to deal with it. Sergio Ramos doesn’t get all those red cards because he lacks discipline. JK himself played with a number of guys who were happy to tinker with the definition of “hard foul”.

          I’m not sure why Old School has such a thing about Mexico. They are dirty but you don’t have to go very far to find far worse. I see them as below average in the dirty mf category. The Netherlands, even if De Jong is not playing, would be a good team to follow if you like watching this sort of thing. Mark Van Bommel was a good one to watch. Marcelo should view DVD’s on him.

    • NC Jeff says:

      Good points, though honestly, since Mexico is 1 of 2 teams (if not the only 1) that others around the world think of when they think of CONCACAF, I’d have rather seen Mexico win, AND have clearly played with class, sportsmanship, and left the Brazilian fans, while disappointed, satisfied that they were treated to very high-level football … played the way it SHOULD be played … they way they’d teach their own kids to play. Instead, CONCACAF got neither from Mexico … well, at least they didn’t accidentally eat any PED-laced steaks.

      • MidWest Ref says:

        Come on NC Jeff, it was PED-laced chicken.

      • M says:

        “Brazil played the way it should be played.” this only applies to Brazil when they are winning. They are in a class by themselves when losing.

        • slyboy says:

          Hah! thank you M. I was thinking of all the times I have seen them flip out when losing. Brazil is not some saintly team of angels when it comes to sportsmanship, they just happened to have kept it relatively clean yesterday. I have seen them get ugly and lose it

    • biff says:

      Funny. It looked to me that Brazil was the team that came out and started the game with a thuggish agenda. They, including Neymar, were knocking the Mexicans flat as soon as they touched the ball and also doing some foot stomps. At some point you gotta give a little payback to try to calm the thugs down and Mexico did start to fight back a little bit as the game wore on.

      As for other aspects of the game, Mexico truly sux under this coach and it is time to fire him and bring in a new coach. The major exception is Dos Santos, who had another strong showing that I imagine will be catching the attention of some European teams.

      As for Neymar, the guy was awesome yesterday and plays with total heart and I think will shake things up at Barcelona.

      • Old School says:

        “The major exception is Dos Santos, who had another strong showing that I imagine will be catching the attention of some European teams.”

        To me, he’s the best player on the pitch each time Mexico plays (and that’s including Hernandez).

        • biff says:

          There are some posters who question his, well, you know. But against both Italy and Brazil he was tough as nails and was not pushed around at all, but was actually doing some pushing around himself. After those two strong performances (and we will see how he does against Japan) I will not be surprised to see him moving this summer to a mid-tier team in Spain or England or Germany.

          • Old School says:

            “There are some posters who question his, well, you know.”

            Yea, I’m one of them but I still respect his game.

            I butcher Hernandez’s nickname each time I get too, but I also respect and admire his game.

    • Eurosnob says:

      Oh well, it was just another classy display from Mexico’s golden generation. Is anyone really surprized? In the last WC, they tried to instigate a brawl against Argentina at the halftime. This time they certainly did not win any points with Brazilian fans and, if Mexico makes it to the WC in Brazil, I expect that the local fans will remember this game and root for the teams that play against Mexico. But the best part, as SBI said: “Mexico crash out of the tournament, having lost for the second time in a row.” If they lose to Japan, it’s going to be a LOOOOONG summer for El Tri. And then the dogfight game against Honduras for the coveted 3rd place in Concacaf WC qualification standings.

      • slyboy says:

        Argentina had just scored a goal off one the most blatant missed offside calls….ever. So i think they can get a pass off that one. IMO

        • Eurosnob says:

          So everytime the refs miss the offiside call, the team is free to instigate a brawl at the halftime? Bad calls happen – the US scored by the game winning goal against Slovenia and Coulibaly disallowed it for no apparent reason – but did they start fighting Slovenians? And by the way, the goal you are referring to was scored on 26 minute and Argentina added another one on 33 minute. Before the halftime, Mexican players had plenty of time to cool off.

    • Kevin says:

      You act as if the US play like nuns, did you forget Dempsey’s studs up tackle to the Mexican keep in the Gold Cup final? Quit whining, your just living up to stereotypes about that everyone has about us. If you don’t like contact sports go watch tennis.

  2. Mig says:

    PSG is in a tough spot. What they really need to do is hire an interim manager, whether they call him that or not, for 1 year. After the World Cup, some name coaches will free up and they could then choose between Wenger, Capello, or a breakout National Team manager (Deschamps?). But they have to get through the next year.

    • Old School says:

      Did Ancelotti have a falling out with the board/management during the course of the season?

      • Mig says:

        Something went on with Carlo and there is something about the guy that rubs people wrong apparently. At Chelsea, he clashed with the crazy Russian over control between him and the other execs at the club. But I don’t have any particular facts in this case.

    • Ando says:

      That was the plan with Leonardo, PSG’s Director of Football. He would coach a year and then PSG would “gun” for Wenger because his Arsenal contact is up and he did not renew it. But, Leonardo is suspended for a year for pushing a referee.

      • Mig says:

        I would have thought that Benitez would have been a good bet for this now “unofficial interim” position. Since that didn’t happen, maybe they lure Hiddink out of Anzhi but that seems unlikely since he is talking about his acquisitions for next season. It’s a bit of a mess.

  3. Onoda says:

    Japan spanked Italy for most of the match. I’m excited to see them play next year.

    • biff says:

      +1 I like Japan too. Fun team to watch and will be cheering for them against some opponents.

    • Josh D says:

      They were my darkhorse team for this Cup. Unfortunately poor defending has cost them yet again. Hopefully they take what they learned from this and can iron out their positioning and communication.

      Attacking-wise, they are fantastic. And as always, their technique is up there with the best. If Mike can find decent form as their up top striker, they will do some damage next year.

      Endo is finally showing his age. I thought his play was absolutely shocking for someone usually so gifted. I don’t know who his replacement would be, but I’m not set on his starting come next year.

      • Onoda says:

        I’m a big fan of Endo but you’re right, he’s getting old. I think It’s actually an easy fix though. Put Kagawa in his natural position in the middle with Honda and use Nakamura/Miyaichi on the left wing.

    • EspinDOHla says:

      So disappointed when that last Italy goal went in. Having lived in Japan from 2006-2011, I love the Blue Samurai and would only root against them if they were playing the US.

      Japan bossed that game but had some defensive lapses that ultimately sealed their fate. It was a thriller and I hope anyone that has not seen it, watches it!! Whether or not you like either team, if you like football, watch this game!!!

      Wonder where Honda will move this summer? I think he is on a free transfer.

  4. The Imperative Voice says:

    In fairness to PSG they’ve only existed since 1970, were not top tier until the mid 70s, and didn’t really get traction til the 90s.

    PSG is like the weird counterpoint to the usual pile of teams in each European city. It’s basically PSG in the top two rungs and then Paris FC is basically the only other professional level team.

  5. Travis says:

    Im just not sure at all why PSG thinks Wenger will go there. Nothing about their current model seems to be what Wenger wants to be a part of. He doesnt like to spend big and he likes to give the youth chances. PSG wants to spend huge and use a veteran/star studded lineup. I just dont get it at all, that isnt to say he stays at Arsenal but I just dont think PSG will be his destination.

  6. Gnarls says:

    Class move by Capello. I’m sure P$G offered him the world.

  7. M says:

    I was able to see the last 30 minutes of Japan and Italy. Japan nearly scored 3 goals and looked like Spain. They were unlucky and could have by 2 or 3 goals. Probably the most exciting 30 minutes of soccer I have watched in a while

  8. Nate Dollars says:

    so i’m not a messi hater by any means, but does anyone else want to see what would happen if he actually had to go to jail?

    like, would fifa step in? i’m @ssuming spanish politician heads would roll, but wouldn’t madrid just love it? would ronaldo volunteer to serve time as well, just so messi couldn’t outdo him in prison-league stats?

    • SanFran415 says:

      Sadly they exist in a different world. He would have to stab someone in broad daylight in front of 50 people to come close to the inside of a prison.

      Barcelona would certainly apply political pressure to keep him out. Or more accurately–the banks that underwrite Barcelona would apply pressure. Definitely a world you want no part of.

    • Old School says:

      ” would ronaldo volunteer to serve time as well, just so messi couldn’t outdo him in prison-league stats?”


    • JCC says:

      The worst thing that will happen is that he has to pay a fine. Maradona owed years of back taxes in Italy, as well, and I think he just had to pay a hefty fine. I also seem to recall at one point they confiscated his earrings at the airport in Italy because of the taxes he owed.

    • Henry says:

      “would ronaldo volunteer to serve time as well, just so messi couldn’t outdo him in prison-league stats?”

      -Killed me

  9. fischy says:

    Illarramendi — a name that will force websites to adopt a specialized new font….

  10. Nyran Hart says:

    Another match in which Italy advances after being outplayed by their rival. They have a history of doing just that in big competitions including the last and 4th WC that they won in which they only just survived until the final. Case in point the two matches against Australia and the USA with some poor decisions by the refs in both those matches helping them along.

    • GW says:

      Outplayed? Who won the game? That’s all Italy care about.

      They have been doing it exactly this way for so long and so often that you know it is no accident.

  11. Brett says:

    Surprised Ives isn’t all over this: link to

  12. Joamiq says:

    Neymar looked really, really good. Living up to the hype.