USA-Italy: Giuseppe Rossi's Second Half Clinic Leads Azzurri to Victory

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJune 15, 2009

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15: Giuseppe Rossi of Italy celebrate during the FIFA Confederations Cup match between USA and Italy played at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 15, 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

If there were any doubts about Italy boss Marcello Lippi being able to read a game, the decisions he made in the Azzurri's Confederations Cup opener against the United States reaffirmed he's still got the magic touch.

Down 1-0 and up a man heading into the final 35 minutes against the United States, Lippi substituted two of his stars from the 2006 World Cup and inserted two of Italy's young guns from the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The outcome was a stroke of genius by the 61-year-old manager.

New Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi stole the show in less than a half of action, scoring a bullet of a shot to level the game at one just moments after entering the game. He then claimed the final goal in stoppage time after a wonderful run by midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo.

The first 45 minutes was filled with controversy. Italy only mounted a few serious scoring chances, with most of them coming on set pieces or corners. Not exactly the way you want to run your attack.

But then Lippi turned to his young guns, inserting Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo for Mauro Camoranesi and Rino Gattuso. Neither of the old vets had done much and it was for the old to exit and to welcome the new generation.

It was a change that was desperately needed and Rossi provided the spark that he usually does when he's on the field.

After winning the ball in the midfield, the 22-year-old who decided to play for the country of his parents instead of the one of his birth, burst forward with no challenge and unleashed a left-footed rocket that left American goalkeeper Tim Howard with no chance.

You think Bob Bradley was wishing he had Rossi on his squad after the tying goal went in?

Yeah, I think so.

The goal ignited the Azzurri and changed the complete momentum of the game. From then on Howard was under a deluge of light blue jerseys, facing scoring opportunity after scoring scoring opportunity.

As the second half went on, it wasn't a matter of if Italy would pull ahead, it was a matter of when.

That moment came 15 minutes later as another Rossi, this time midfielder Daniele De Rossi, another one of Italy's young guns, launched a rocket of his own. Much like Rossi, the Roma midfielder was given acres to work with and he took advantage of it, launching a heat seeker directly at the bottom right corner of the USA goal.

Even though there still 18 minutes to go, it seemed like the Italians had put the nail in the American coffin and from then on it was free-flowing football.

Because the United States was down a midfielder, Pirlo was given room to roam and he took full advantage of it. Through balls to Rossi and strikers Vincenzo Iaquinta and Luca Toni were numerous and it seemed as though the old Pirlo was back.

But he wasn't finished.

As the game went into stoppages, Pirlo made a run down the left flank, skinning an American defender in the process, and sent in a beautiful cross that found an unmarked Rossi. He volleyed the cross past Howard which only added to the fairytale script.

In just under 40 minutes of action, it was Rossi who stole the show.

He was everywhere and his brace will obviously steal the headlines, but it should be noted how much of an effect he had on the entire Italy squad.

Lippi put faith in both youngsters and they proved their worth with their best performances in the Italian uniform. For a team that had been talked about getting old awfully quick, seeing the young guns making a huge impact certainly gives fans a reason to be happy about what the future holds.

A year before the World Cup, we may have witnessed the passing of the torch.