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Hot Rossi shatters American dreams

THE United States looked on course for a first-ever victory over Italy on Monday when a young striker from Teaneck, New Jersey, stole it from the Americans.

Giuseppe Rossi, born near New York to Italian immigrants and now wearing the colors of Italy, scored a 59th-minute equalizer with a thumping shot from 26 meters less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute. He made his first appearance for the Azzurri last October.

After Daniele De Rossi added a second with another long-range strike, Rossi, sold to Spain's Villarreal by Manchester United two years ago, collected a pass from Andrea Pirlo with a powerful first-time strike to complete Italy's 3-1 victory at the Confederations Cup in Pretoria, South Africa.

"Goals are always nice to score," said Rossi, who scored his first for Italy against Northern Ireland in a June 6 3-0 friendly victory in Pisa.

"If you're playing against the team which is the country where you are born it's always a great emotion coming in. But when you are on the field you have no plan. You just think about playing the game."

Italy coach Marcello Lippi said Rossi made a difference to his ailing team.

"Rossi gave us a burst of energy," said Lippi, who led Italy to its 2006 World Cup triumph. "He scored a great goal that calmed us down psychologically with a half hour still to go and then he finished the game off."

Landon Donovan had given the Americans a deserved 41st-minute lead from the penalty spot with his 40th international goal even though Bob Bradley's team was down to 10 men after a harsh red card given to Ricardo Clark a few minutes earlier for a foul on Gennaro Gattuso.

With the Italians looking uninspired even against 10 men, Lippi sent on Rossi and the game turned.

The 22-year-old striker's arrival gave the Italians a far more potent threat in attack alongside Alberto Gilardino and Vincenzo Iaquinta and the American defense came under strong pressure in the last 30 minutes. It succumbed to the two long-range shots and an inspired move and now the US has lost four times to Italy alongside three ties.

Bradley's team didn't look like a side down to 10 men as the Americans continued to hold the Italians in midfield. But the emergence of Rossi changed everything.

"I know the Rossi family," Bradley said. "I hoped that Giuseppe would have played for the US but he made his decision. He's a very talented young player. Today's a very exciting day for him and a very disappointing one for us."


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