JOHANNESBURG, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Egypt made a historic breakthrough on Thursday by upsetting World Cup winner Italy 1-0 in the Confederations Cup in the South African economic hub of Johannesburg.
The narrow 3-4 loss to South American champion Brazil did not dampen the fighting spirit of the Pharaohs in the inter-continental tournament, but seemed to inspire them to achieve the greatest success in record books.
It was also a new record in African soccer history as the Azzurri has never lost to an African team, despite more than a dozen of attempts from the continent.
Egypt acted as a "troublemaker" for Italy, although the latter owned more control after the kick-off. The Pharaohs' counterattack efforts bear fruit five minutes before the interval when midfielder Mohamed Homo scored with a pinpoint header from Egyptian pivotal forward Mohamed Aboutrika's inswinging corner.
The Azzurri intensified their onslaught in the second half. Egyptian veteran goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari, however, made brilliant saves and kept Italy at bay. The most fatal threat came with just minutes remaining as Vincenzo Iaquinta hit the crossbar.
Italian coach Marcello Lippi said that all the sides were very good. He considered several saves of Al Hadari as very difficult.
Both Egypt and Italy have collected three points in Group B, enabling the four teams in the group to have the possibility to progress into the semifinal. The other two squads were the Untied States and Brazil.
Brazil beat the United States 3-0 on Thursday in Pretoria, ensuring a semifinal berth of the Confederations Cup. Italy defeated the United States 3-1 on Tuesday in the same South African city.
Brazil will play with World Cup winner Italy on Sunday in Pretoria while the United States is scheduled to have a game with African champion Egypt in Rustenburg.
That left a better chance for the Pharaohs to grab the semifinal slot in Group B as Italy had to face the challenge of South American champion Brazil which was among the favorites in the tournament.