Italy left it late to get their Confederation Cup campaign off to a winning start by defeating Mexico 2-1 at the Maracana Stadium, Brazil.
The Azzurri dominated large spells of the first half and matters appeared to be going according to plan when Andrea Pirlo, on his 100th cap, curled in a breathtaking free-kick to break the deadlock after 27 minutes.
But a horrendous mistake by Andrea Barzagli saw him concede a penalty seven minutes later, from which Javier Hernandez converted coolly to level the scores before the break.
Mario Balotelli would spare Italy’s blushes 12 minutes from time though, powering through towards goal and finishing to secure all three points and keep his side on pace with Group A leaders, Brazil, who beat Japan on Saturday.
Italy’s joy was shortlived, however, as hesitation from Barzagli allowed Dos Santos the chance to nip the ball off his toes.
Santos was promptly fouled inside the area by the defender in an attempt to cover his mistake.
And Hernandez made no mistake from 12 yards out, sending Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way with a low strike to the right corner.
The match seemed to be petering out to an inevitable draw, but in the 78th minute, with one show of strength, Balotelli turned past Francisco ‘Maza’ Rodriguez and drilled past Corona with aplomb.
Mexico rallied late on in the opposition half, but fell flat as Buffon was not called into action, and Cesare Prandelli’simen closed out the game to seal an important vice