U.S. born Giuseppe Rossi scored a brace to help Italy overcome a one goal halftime deficit and defeat 10-man United States 3-1 in Confederations Cup action in Pretoria.
FIFA World Cup winning coach Marcelo Lippi showed once again why he is one of the best in the game when he sent Rossi in for Gennaro Gattuso in the 57th minute ahead of Italy strike veteran Luca Toni. And the Villarreal striker proved the decision was a good one less than a minute later.
Rossi dispossessed Benny Feilhaber near the midfield line and pushed toward goal. With the defense backing, Rossi let fly a left footed blast from 25 yards out that eluded an outstretched Tim Howard and nicked in off the post.
The goal changed the complexion of the match from that moment forward in Italy’s advantage but the biggest game changer came in the 33rd minute of the first half when Ricardo Clark was shown a straight red card for an unnecessary and somewhat reckless but very soft challenge. The Houston Dynamo midfielder beat one Azzurri player near midfield but the ball ran away from him. Clark lunged for the ball and caught Gattuso near the knee. When the referee brought out the red card, Clark as well as the rest of the U.S. team were shocked.
The match almost went from bad to worse six minutes later when Jonathan Bornstein knocked the ball into his own net from the top of the box. The left back was making a sliding attempt to cut off a through ball and got enough of the ball to re-direct it past a charging Howard. Fortunately for the U.S., the Italian was flagged for offside pulling the ball back out.
The Stars and Stripes responded and settled down after dropping a man and took the lead off a Landon Donovan penalty kick in the 41st minute. The team captain calmly stepped up to take the penalty sending Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way before placing the ball in the right side.
Jozy Altidore set up the penalty. After receiving a well played long ball from Feilhaber, the Villarreal players pushed into the right corner of the box and cut back before being cut down by the Italian defender Chiellini.
The U.S. created few other chances on goal for the remainder of the game. The two best chances came late off a header from second half substitute Charlie Davis and a long range effort from Clint Dempsey.
After the Rossi goal the Azzurri were in control. The question was whether the U.S. could weather the storm and take a share of the points.
Daniele De Rossi gave Italy the lead on another long range shot in the 72nd minute. The midfielder, infamously remembered as the Italian red card in the last match up against the United States in the 2006 FIFA World Cup for his elbow to Brian McBride, sent a low hard drive from 25+ yards out that an off balanced Oguchi Onyewu could only desperately try and knock away at the penalty spot before it went into the side corner passed the outstretched hand of Howard.
Rossi finished off the scoring well into stoppage time with a right footed half volley. Andrea Pirlo set up the goal beating Jay Demerit on the sideline before dribbling to the endline unchallenged. Pirlo found Rossi charging in the box and picked him out with a well floated chip.