Andrea Pirlo

A match that many feared would end in a goalless draw ended up being quite enjoyable, as Italy dominated Mexico for most of the 90 minutes, getting a deserved win thanks to a beautiful free kick from Andrea Pirlo and a stubborn winning goal from Mario Balotelli.

With Mexico coming with a long string of 0-0 results from their World Cup qualifiers and Italy’s knack to feel good about not conceding, it could have been much worse. But while Mexico continued to look like a tactical mess, at least on offense, as Giovanni Dos Santos was the only one to do anything creative for the side, Italy were organized, as befits a team that moves the ball through Andrea Pirlo.

Prilo opened the scoring in the 26th minute with a sublime free kick finish from around 24 meters, sending it to the top right corner, something Corona couldn’t have touched. Ochoa wouldn’t have done better either.

Pirlo Goal

Then came some minutes we’re not used to seeing – Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli struggling to find their men, as Dos Santos’ trickey and quickeness kept them on their heels. Eventually, it Was Barzagli who couldn’t keep up and allowed Dos Santos to win the penalty kick, which some goalkeepers might have turned into a red card.

Javier Hernandez, who did nothing all match, stepped up to score the penalty kick, but it was one of those matches for him when he proved that if it’s not a chance in the box, there’s really not a lot he knows to do with the ball.

From here it was all Italy, with Giaccherini becoming a lot more involved, but Mario Balotelli, who spent most of the second half arguing and getting into scuffles with the Mexican defense, was the one who finished the job.

Mario Balotelli Goal

Giacherrini didn’t mean to come up with a brilliant pass, but his small chip into the box was enough. Balotelli shook off three Mexican players and slid first to score the winning goal in the 79th minute, giving Italy a huge boost for the rest of the group stage, and most importantly not putting them in a must-win situation against Brazil, while still hoping to finish first in the group in order to avoid Spain in the semifinal.