SALVADOR, Brazil – Neymar scored his third goal in three matches and Fred added two others as Brazil beat Italy 4-2 and finished on top of Group A of the Confederations Cup on Saturday.
Substitute defender Dante opened the scoring from close range in first-half injury time, but Italy equalized through Emanuele Giaccherini’s swift breakaway in the 51st. Dante looked just offside for his goal.
Neymar scored in the 55th with a well-placed free kick shot into the top corner of the net as Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon could only watch, and Fred added to the lead from inside the area in the 66th before Italy pulled closer again with a Giorgio Chiellini goal in the 71st.
Italy almost tied it when an 80th-minute header by Christian Maggio went off the crossbar, and Mario Balotelli just missed with a right-footed shot a few minutes later, but Fred sealed the victory from a Buffon rebound in the 89th, another goal that looked offside.
Brazil ended with nine points, three more than the Italians. Mexico and Japan had already been eliminated. Brazil needed at least a draw to win the group and likely avoid a matchup with World Cup champion Spain, which leads Group B.
MEXICO 2, JAPAN 1
In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Javier Hernandez cemented his status as Mexico’s leading striker Saturday, sending his team home from the Confederations Cup on a high note by scoring twice in a victory over Japan in their final Group A match.
With seven goals in his past eight games for Mexico, the 25-year-old Manchester United striker has now climbed up his country’s all-time scoring leaderboard to third spot, which he shares with retired forward Luis Hernandez.
He’s always been a very insistent, determined player,” said Mexico coach Jose Manuel De la Torre.
“He’s highly competitive, and has a huge dynamic and sense of timing in order to score ... and that is what has taken him to be at these very high levels with Manchester United.
Now he’s simply responding with these goals for the national team.”
After struggling to threaten in the first half at Mineirao Stadium, Hernandez met Andres Guardado’s cross in the 54th minute and headed in again in the 66th from Giovani Dos Santos’ corner.
Shinji Okazaki pulled one back for Japan in the 86th and Hernandez won a penalty in stoppage time, but his weak effort was saved and he sent the follow-up against the crossbar.