BRAZIL 3-0 SPAIN
After winning consecutive international tournaments, two European Championships and the last World Cup, Spain finally tasted final defeat when Brazil brushed aside La Roja 3-0 to lift the Confederations Cup on their home soil.
The Spanish were also unbeaten in 29 competitive games, winning 24 and drawing five, before Sunday’s defeat. The run was a world record which began after their 1-0 defeat to Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup. In a record of their own, Brazil are now the first team to win three successive Confederations Cups.
Driven on by the passionate Maracana crowd, the five-time world champions signaled their intent ahead of next summer’s World Cup with a dominating display. Fluminense striker Fred was on again among the goals scoring twice, but poster boy Neymar again stole the show, scoring Brazil’s second with a breathtaking left-foot power shot.
To add to Spain’s misery, Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos missed a spot-kick before Gerard Pique was sent off for bringing down Neymar for a professional foul with 20 minutes to go.
The beginning of the game was highly emotional, with the noise building to a ear-bleeding climax, and along with the Brazilian anthem stirring the partisan crowd to goose bumps. On reflection with these fans, there was no way Brazil could lose the game, they had the ‘twelfth man’ on the pitch.
Along with the crowd, history was also against Vicente Del Bosque’s side. The Seleção have not lost a competitive match in Brazil since 1975 and the last time Spain had beaten them in a competitive match, home or away was back in 1934.
Spain needed to silence the crowd but Brazil, like the audience, were relentless through the match and highly-charged atmosphere pushed them on and they lead in the second minute.
Hulk swung in a cross from the right wing which was knocked down at the back post by Neymar, Fred slipped to the ground but as the ball came back his way, he swung a boot at it lifting the ball up and over Iker Casillas.
Luis Felipe Scolari was delighted with the start and his men smelt blood and went for a second. Chelsea’s Oscar has a fantastic chance firing narrowly wide from inside the box, while Casillas scrambled back to claw Paulinho’s chip from under his crossbar.
The yellow shirts attacked the red shirts with the same intensity that Spain has been famous for in recent years. Brazil pressed with a fluency and flair that unsettled the flummoxed Pique and Ramos flummoxed.
The referee Bjorn Kuipers on two occasions decided against sending Spanish defenders off after first Neymar and then Oscar were tripped when through on goal. Real Madrid defensive pair Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa were show yellow cards, much to the Maracana crowd’s annoyance.
Spain did create some chances, but Julio Cesar was strong in the Brazilian goal. At the helm of the Spanish moves was obviously Andres Iniesta but there was few positive moments. Iniesta orchestrated Fernando Torres’s reverse pass free Barca left-back Jordi Alba who in turn found Pedro. The Superman-like David Luiz amazingly appeared out of nowhere to clear the shot high over the bar to send the crowd erupting in delight, as they all thought that was Spain’s equaliser.
With the half-time whistle about to be blown, Brazil surged forward again this time with Neymar. The 21-year-old traded passes with Oscar and smarting getting himself back onside, took one touch then smashed a powerful left-foot drive above Casillas to make it 2-0.
The stadium rose to praise their poster boy and Spain looked bemused as the partying began all around them.
The half-time whistle brought Spain just fifteen minutes of respite as they emerged for the second half they were booed and within two minutes they were three behind.
It was all over for Spain as Hulk played a ball forward, Neymar dummied the ball and it fell to the profilic Fred who delightfully rolled a first-time finish past Casillas for the third.
It was Spain’s night and even when they were handed a lifeline, they could not capitalise. A penalty was awarded when Marcelo flicked a leg and barely made contact with substitute Jesus Navas. The Manchester City new boy went down to the ground like a scene from a war movie and the Dutch referee pointed to the spot. Justice prevailed as Sergio Ramos tamely hit his shot wide in a moment that summed up Spain’s evening.
Spain continued to push for a goal with Pedro twice drawing top-class saves from Julio Cesar late on before the hosts lifted the trophy. After the game, the streets around the Maracana still had the usual protestors clashing with police a mile or so away from the historic ground while tens of thousands of Brazil fans danced in the streets with the victory.
If this is a taste of things to come for next years finals, I personally cannot wait and for the Brazilians, hopefully the problems with the protestors can be sorted. So that the sea of yellow in the seats can party like they did on Sunday night.
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