[CONFEDERATIONS CUP]Mexico's 2-1 loss to Italy to open play at the Confederations Cup was its first of the year in nine games but doubly troubling for the future of beleaguered coach Jose Manuel de la Torre. It came on the heels of Mexico's third straight scoreless tie at Azteca Stadium in World Cup qualifying and was the logical conclusion to a match in which it was thoroughly dominated. Spain also opened play with a 2-1 win over Uruguay in a match whose final scoreline did not reflect its dominance. For the Italy-Mexico and Spain-Uruguay video highlights ...
Chepo was hoping a change of scenery would invigorate his players, but they looked anything but inspired. Mexico was lucky to be tied at the half when Javier Hernandez's penalty kick canceled out Andrea Pirlo's free kick, but Mario Balotellioutmuscled the Tri defense and won the game for Italy with a goal in the 78th minute.
Chepo's post-game remarks that Mexico controlled the game were clearly out of touch with the reality of the game in which the Azzurri had a 57-43 percent edge in possession, keeping Mexico stuck in its own half for much of the game.
"We had a lot of moves when we were in good positions," he claimed. "I believe we could have had better luck."
The luck of draw is not with Mexico, though. It must face Brazil in its next game and will be eliminated as early as Wednesday in case of a loss and Italy tie or win against Japan.
Spain looks set to return to the semifinals, where it lost to the USA, 2-0, four years ago. It led Uruguay on first-half goals from Pedro and Roberto Soldado was in control against Uruguay for much of the game until it tired late in the heat of Recife.
Spain, which held a 16-4 edge in shots and 71-29 percent possession advantage, hasn't exactly impressed in World Cup qualifying, tying both France and Finland at home, but the win, which extended its unbeaten to 23 games, makes it the favorite along with Brazil to reach the final of the only tournament it has not won in the last six years.
"We played an excellent first half," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque told Spanish television network Telecinco, "and I think we also played very well in the second period, but we suffered a bit at the end."
Brazil 3 Japan 0.
Goals: Neymar 3, Paulinho 48, Jo 90+3.
Italy 2 Mexico 1.
Goals: Pirlo 27, Balotelli 78; Hernandez pen. 34.
Brazil vs. Mexico 2:30 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Italy vs. Japan 5:45 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Japan vs. Mexico 2:30 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Italy vs. Brazil 2:30 p.m. ESPNEWS/WatchESPN
Standings: Brazil, Italy 3 points; Italy, Japan 0.
Spain 2 Uruguay 1.
Goals: Pedro 20, Soldado 32; Suarez 88.
Tahiti vs. Nigeria 2:45 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Spain vs. Tahiti 2:45 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Nigeria vs. Uruguay 5:45 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Nigeria vs. Spain 2:30 p.m. ESPN/WatchESPN
Uruguay vs. Tahiti 2:30 p.m. ESPN2/WatchESPN
Standings: Spain 3 points; Uruguay, Tahiti, Nigeria 0.