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Neymar shines for patchy Brazil


Brazil's Neymar. Photo: AP

Brazil's Neymar. Photo: AP

Brazil's Neymar. Photo: AP

BRAZIL and Italy advanced to the Confederations Cup semi-finals with a game to spare by maintaining 100pc records at the eight-team competition.

Tournament hosts Brazil, the defending champions, moved into the final four with a 2-0 victory against Mexico yesterday before Italy rallied from two goals down to beat Japan 4-3 in the late game.

Italy booked their semi-final place as they snatched a barely deserved victory from a pulsating game in Recife to dump Japan out of the cup.

Italy scored three times in 11 minutes either side of half-time, through Daniele De Rossi, Atsuto Uchida's own goal and Mario Balotelli's penalty after Japan had established a 2-0 lead courtesy of Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa.

Shinji Okazaki made it 3-3 in the 69th minute, but Sebastian Giovinco netted four minutes from the end to ensure Italy progress from Group A alongside Brazil.

Neymar (pictured) gave possibly his best performance for his country in the win over Mexico. The Barcelona-bound 21-year-old set the hosts on their way with a stunning volley in the ninth minute – the second game in a row that he has got them off to a flying start – before setting up their second for substitute Jo deep into stoppage time.

Neymar's performance lit up an otherwise ordinary display by Brazil, who dazzled for 20 minutes but only performed in patches after that. Brazil have won both their Group A matches without conceding a goal.