Italy’s Balotelli upstages Neymar in Brazil draw

GENEVA – Italy striker Mario Balotelli left his Brazil counterpart Neymar in the shadows as he capped an inspiring performance with a majestic goal in a 2-2 international friendly draw on Thursday.
Mario Balotelli’s long-range strike completed Italy’s comeback as they drew 2-2 with Brazil. Net photo.
Mario Balotelli’s long-range strike completed Italy’s comeback as they drew 2-2 with Brazil. Net photo.

GENEVA – Italy striker Mario Balotelli left his Brazil counterpart Neymar in the shadows as he capped an inspiring performance with a majestic goal in a 2-2 international friendly draw on Thursday.

Balotelli curled an unstoppable shot past Julio Cesar as Italy recovered from 2-0 down at halftime to deny Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari his first win since being reappointed for a second stint in November.

Neymar, 21, billed as Brazil’s great hope for the future, cleverly set up their second goal for Oscar but was not in the same class as the mercurial Balotelli.

Brazil, showing signs of a more physical approach under their 2002 World Cup-winning coach Scolari, produced flashes of flair and lots of bruising tackles as they improved on their display in last month’s 2-1 defeat by England at Wembley.

Brazil remain unbeaten against Italy since their infamous 3-2 loss at the 1982 World Cup but will be more worried about whether they can build a title-winning team in time for the 2014 tournament which they host.

Scolari saw improvements from the England performance after an end-to-end match between two teams committed to attack.

“I think we have definitely progressed. I liked the way the team performed. We didn’t get desperate when they equalised and I thought they (Brazil’s players) did very well.”

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