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Italy back to penalties, take third place in the Confederations Cup

Jun 30, 2013, 3:12 PM EDT

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Another 120 minutes for the Italians, and again no result.

This time however, the penalty kicks went their way.

After a 2-2 final score following the conclusion of extra time, Gianluigi Buffon saved 3 of the 5 Uruguayan penalties to lead his side to the third place spot at the 2013 Confederations Cup.

The Uruguayans will be looking to take penalty practice ahead of the 2014 World Cup, as they offered Buffon little trouble in the shootout.

The match was an exciting one, with back-and-forth action for just about the entire first 90 minutes.

Italy took the lead early in the 24th minute when a gorgeous free kick by Alessandro Diamanti from way out banged off the corner of the crossbar, then off the shoulder of Uruguay keeper Fernando Musalera, and Davide Astori tapped it in for the finish. FIFA originally awarded the goal to Diamanti, but the most high-profile usage yet of goal-line technology confirmed the ball had not gone over the line before Astori tapped it in, giving Calgari defender his first international goal for the Azzurri.

(MORE: Our first major look at goal-line technology on TV, and it was glorious)

Edinson Cavani drew level for Uruguay after halftime when Luis Suarez cut back a pass to the Napoli striker and he nudged the ball to the far post past Buffon.

Alessandro Diamanti was back at it again for the Azzurri on set piece play, as his free kick in the 73rd minute went past Musalera and into the top corner to regain the lead for Italy.

Free kicks continued to play an important role, as just five minutes later Cavani doubled his goal tally with a blistering set piece into the top left, although Buffon will wish he had done better off the ball.

The Italians were forced to play the final ten minutes of extra time down a man, when Riccardo Montolivo was sent off with a second yellow, forcing him to miss Italy’s next FIFA-sanctioned match.

Italy impressed many in this tournament, taking Spain to the brink as well in the semifinals, and their prospects ahead of the World Cup are quite promising. They didn’t have their full squad in either the semis or the third place match, missing a combination of Montolivo, Andrea Pirlo, and Daniele De Rossi over the course of the two games.

For Uruguay, it’s their second straight fourth-place finish in a senior FIFA tournament after their same finish in South Africa 2010. They also finished fourth in their only other Confederations Cup appearance in 1997.

Uruguayan manager Oscar Tabarez will be looking to tweak a few things for sure before Brazil next year. His three-headed striker monster up front of Suarez, Cavani, and Diego Forlan is nice on paper, but in order to have the trio up front it requires two of them to play out of position on the wing, and inconsistency follows. At times Forlan’s crosses are dangerous and so are Cavani’s runs, but the consistency wasn’t there over the course of this tournament, and it will be something Tabarez may want to address.

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