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16 Jun 2013

Pirlo celebrates Azzurri landmark in style

The Juve midfield maestro nets a stunning free kick to mark his 100th cap for the national side. Five other Bianconeri players also feature in the starting line-up

Italy kick off their Confederations Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory against Mexico at the Maracanà stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

A total of six Bianconeri players featured in Cesare Prandelli's starting line-up: Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini.

It was a special evening for Pirlo, who celebrated his 100th international cap in one of football's most famous settings and also opened the scoring with an unstoppable top corner free-kick on 27 minutes.

By reaching the 100 landmark in terms of appearances, the 34-year-old officially joined the esteemed company of Italian legends Dino Zoff (112), Paolo Maldini (126), Buffon (129) and Fabio Cannavaro (136).

However, the midfield maestro wasn't the only Juve man to make a telling contribution to the Azzurri's opening success as Giaccherini also left his mark on the match by providing a crucial assist to Mario Balotelli for the winning goal.

Brazil currently top Group A on goal difference after their 3-0 triumph against Japan yesterday but Italy also sit on three points and will look to take another step towards semi-final qualification on Wednesday at 7pm (midnight CET) when they square up against Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan side in Recife.

Elsewhere, Martin Caceres will be in action later on tonight as Group B begins with Uruguay’s meeting with Spain.