Confederations Cup: Italy clinch third spot in penalty shootout

Salvador (Brazil), July 1 (IANS) Italy secured the third spot in the Confederations Cup after a pulsating 3-2 penalty shootout victory here over Uruguay.

After a 2-2 scoreline at the end of extra time Sunday, Gianluigi Buffon saved shots from Diego Forlan, Martin Caceres and Walter Gargano to hand Italy the consolation prize at the World Cup warmup tournament, Xinhua reports.

Earlier, Davide Astori gave Italy the lead with a 24th minute strike that went in off the post before Edinson Cavani equalised just before the hour.

Alessandro Diamanti regained the lead for Cesar Prandelli’s side with a superb free-kick but Cavani again tied the scores with another unstoppable shot from a set piece.

Uruguay’s vaunted attacking trio of Forlan, Cavani and Luis Suarez threatened from the outset at the Arena Fonte Nova. Suarez released Forlan with a 40m pass in the fifth minute but the former Manchester United striker’s cross was just out of Cavani’s reach.

Forlan then tested Buffon’s reflexes with a powerful free-kick under the Italy wall.

Italy began to control possession and Antonio Candreva forced a fine save from Fernando Muslera after Mattia de Sciglio’s slick pass.

The Azzurri broke the deadlock in the 24th minute when Diamanti’s free-kick from the right cannoned off the far post before being bundled in by Astori. It marked the first time that goal-line technology has been used to adjudicate a goal in an international match.

Despite the strike, Uruguay continued to trouble Italy on the counter attack.

Suarez forced another Buffon save after Forlan’s pass before Cavani had a goal disallowed for offside having headed in a Forlan free-kick.

Then it was Italy’s turn to be denied as Stephan El Shaarawy twice went close to scoring a second. First his long-range effort was palmed away by Muslera and then Diego Godin cleared his goal-bound shot off the line.

Uruguay pressured Italy’s defence early in the second half and were rewarded when Cavani ran onto Gargano’s pass and slotted past Buffon.

Buffon then negated Forlan with a stunning double save. The Juventus veteran parried away the striker’s powerful right-footed shot before blocking the 34-year-old’s rebounded effort with his legs.

Alessandro Diamanti gave Italy the lead minutes later when he curled a dipping free kick into the top corner.

Not to be outdone, Cavani stepped up to thump a 25m free kick past Buffon, who could only manage to rasp the ball with his finger tips.

Uruguay looked most likely to score as Italy showed signs of fatigue in extra time.

Suarez had a penalty claim waved away and then narrowly shot over the crossbar with a fizzing 25m attempt.

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