City's Samba stars sink Italy
Brazil triumph in Emirates Stadium thriller
By Rob Parrish. Last Updated: February 10, 2009 10:48pm
Robinho celebrates at Emirates Stadium
Manchester City duo Robinho and Elano combined to help Brazil triumph over Italy in their friendly international at a packed Emirates Stadium.
The meeting of the five-times World Cup winners and the current holders and four-times champions was expected to be an enthralling affair and the match certainly lived up to the billing.
Fans in North London were treated to an end-to-end affair with superb first-half goals from Robinho and his Eastlands team-mate Elano settling matters.
With just four minutes gone left-back Fabio Grosso superbly volleyed home after a long ball from Andrea Pirlo into the Brazil box, but his effort was ruled out for offside, although replays suggested he was not beyond the last defender.
Elano gave Brazil the lead in the 13th minute as he put the finishing touch to a slick passing move involving Manchester City team-mate Robinho and Ronaldinho, firing the ball beyond Gianluigi Buffon.
And it was 2-0 in the 27th minute as Pirlo carelessly lost possession on the edge of his own box to Robinho, with the Eastlands favourite leaving defenders Gianluca Zambrotta and Nicola Legrottaglie bamboozled by a series of step-overs before drilling a shot beyond Buffon and into the net.
Italy responded with Daniele De Rossi warming Julio Cesar's hands with a powerful right-foot effort from outside the box.
Elano then came close to a spectacular third for Brazil when he cut in from the right and unleashed a vicious effort with the outside of his boot which swerved and dipped just after it cleared Buffon's crossbar.
Italy made four changes at the interval with one of the new arrivals, Giuseppe Rossi, firing into the side-netting soon after as Marcello Lippi's men pressed for an early response.
Luca Toni, who was also introduced at the break, thought he had pulled one back in the 65th minute after another searching ball from Pirlo, but referee Howard Webb had spotted a clear handball from the striker and the effort was ruled out.
Julio Cesar produced an excellent late stop to deny Toni from close range after Rossi's cut-back from the touchline had found the striker in space inside the six-yard box.
And the Brazil goalkeeper was called on again in the 87th minute, diving to his left to keep out a curling free-kick from Grosso before gathering Toni's header from the resulting corner.