Before kickoff, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said Brazil had an "extraordinary quality." It turned out he was selling his own team—and the match—a bit short.
Brazil and Italy played to a 2-2 draw Thursday in an international friendly in Geneva, Switzerland, and all things considered, the match was worthy of the two most successful World Cup nations of all time.
From Brazil building a two-goal lead to Italy's stirring second-half comeback to Mario Balotelli's stunning equalizer, the match thrilled from start to finish.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil, hosts of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, built a 2-0 halftime lead against the run of play. Fred opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a volley at the back post, and Oscar doubled Brazil's advantage with an outside-of-the-foot flick on the counter nine minutes later.
Italy stormed back with two goals in as many minutes early in the second half. After Andrea Pirlo curled a shot just wide, Daniele De Rossi poked home a corner to put the Azzurri on the board. Then Mario Balotelli struck.
Starting near the middle of the pitch, Balotelli dribbled through the midfield and curled an outrageous effort into the top corner from distance.
Shut the front and back door Mario Balotelli. That is preposterous.— Will Tidey (@willtidey) March 21, 2013
All four goals, and all the highlights from a thoroughly exciting friendly, appear above. The clip is our Set Piece Video of the Day for this Friday. Balotelli's goal starts around the 6:15 mark. Enjoy.
After scoring his wonder goal, Balotelli insisted he hadn't performed very well.
“I would only give myself six out of 10,” he said (per Football Italia). “I missed too many scoring opportunities…”
Maybe so, Mario, but there's no denying that was a superb goal. For that matter, this was a superb friendly, too—probably one of the best we can remember.
"We played a good match against a team which has the potential to be great," Prandelli said (via AFP). "We were 2-0 down at half-time, we don't quite know how, but the important thing is we didn't lose our composure and we always looked to score."