An inspired second-half showing from Brazil earned the Confederations Cup hosts a 4-2 win over Italy in Salvador to win Group A and avoid a potential semi-final meeting with Spain.
The dubious honour of facing the world champions in a Thursday semi in Fortaleza is now likely to be Italy's
fate assuming the Spanish, with two wins under their belts ahead of their final meeting with Nigeria, top Group B.
Brazil made it three wins in three games yesterday at the event to earn a probable semi-final with Uruguay in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.
Brazil started looking like a side who had been energised not just by their opening wins and clean sheets against Japan and Mexico but also the waves of popular protest by citizens demanding better social policies and an end to state corruption.
Looking to cheer the nation, the whole Brazil squad sang the national anthem with gusto and then set about chasing an early goal.
On the half hour Italy made an early change in sending on Emmanuele Giaccherini to replace Riccardo Montolivo. Italy then lost Abate to a suspected dislocated shoulder, Christian Maggio coming on, before Brazil took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Neymar fired over a freekick from the left, Fred saw Gigi Buffon parry but Dante followed up and the Bayern Munich player bundled home.
Giorgio Chiellini gave Italy hope in pulling back to 3-2 in the 71st minute with a low shot after Balotelli appeared to have been impeded in the box.
But Italian hopes of pulling things back ended when, after Christian Maggio had hit the bar at the other end, Fred made it 4-2 after Buffon had parried a shot from Marcelo.