Brazil 2 (Fred 41, Paulinho 85)
Uruguay 1 (Cavani 48)
Mineirão, Belo Horizonte. Temp. 26°C, wind 6 mph, partly sunny. Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile)
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar (Hernanes 72), Fred, Hulk (Bernard 64), Neymar (Dante 90+1).
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Pereira M, Caceres, Godin, Rodriguez, Gonzalez (Gargano 83), Arevalo, Suarez, Forlan, Cavani.
Brazil qualified for the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup and will face either Italy or Spain at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Goals from Fred and Paulinho at the end of each half were enough to see of Uruguay, who replied through Cavani but missed a penalty in the first half. Uruguay will now face the losers of the other semi final in the third place match on Saturday.
Both teams were back to their strongest line ups with Paulinho returning to the midfield for Brazil and Uruguay bringing back the whole host of first team regulars who were rested for their final group game against Tahiti. There was an emotional applause just before kick off as the stadium remembered Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who passed away ten years ago today in a Confederations Cup semi final match against Colombia in Lyon.
The first dozen minutes passed uneventfully as neither team managed to find their rhythm or keep possession for a prolonged period of play. The first noteworthy action occurred in the thirteenth minute when Uruguay won a corner and David Luiz hauled down Uruguay captain Diego Lugano as the ball was played into the box. Diego Forlan stepped up to take the penalty and struck his shot low to the goalkeeper’s left but Julio Cesar dived the right way and pushed the ball around his post to the delight of the crowd and relief of his team mates. Immediately after that, Brazil produced their first meaningful attack culminating in a speculative shot from Oscar that sailed just wide.
The match continued in a similar, scrappy, vein with chances few and far between until Diego Forlan managed to get on to the end of a cross from the left and blaze a venomous shot just over the bar from the edge of the box in the thirtieth minute. It was the closest anyone had come to a goal in open play thus far. Full-back Marcelo was providing much of Brazil’s attacking threat with his forays down the left flank and he put a promising ball into the box towards Fred but the forward was beaten to the ball at the near post and couldn’t convert it. Uruguay goalkeeper Muslera wasn’t totally redundent in the first period, but his work was largely restricted to periodically plucking Brazilian crosses out of the air until five minutes from the interval when he was forced off his line to close down Neymar but could only deflect the striker’s shot into the path of Fred, who was left with a simple tap in to make it 1-0.
There was still time for a Luis Suarez chance before the interval, but the Liverpool forward didn’t connect properly with his shot and couldn’t trouble Julio Cesar. The one nil deficit at the break seemed a bit harsh on the Uruguayans as they had had the best chances and allowed Brazil to score with their only dangerous attack. Whatever they said at half time obviously had an effect because they were level within three minutes of the restart. It was a messy build up with the ball pinging around the Brazilian box, never under control and never properly cleared, until Cavani pounced and clinically dispatched it into the far corner with a low shot to silence the crowd.
The equaliser prompted a more exciting period of play with chances at both ends, for Oscar when Muslera fumbled a high ball and for Uruguay when an inviting Suarez cross was whipped away from the head of Forlan by a defender at the last moment. Hulk then fired in a stinging, swerving free kick from long range that Muslera could only punch away, and the same player was off target with an overhead kick a few minutes later. It was his last action of the match as he was replaced by local hero Bernard shortly after.
Uruguay were almost handed the lead in the sixty sixth minute when a Forlan free kick from the right was headed towards his own goal by Thiago Silva, but fortunately for the defender it flew just over the bar. Brazil immediately responded with a chance for Fred at the other end and then produced the best move of the match to set up Neymar, but his shot wasn’t strong enough to trouble Muslera. Spaces started to open up in the last quarter of an hour and chances came a bit more frequently as the prospect of an extra half hour started to loom. Forlan did well to set up Cavani for a sharp turn and shot that almost completed the turn around, but Brazil generally had more of the possession as the game wore on.
Their breakthrough came five minutes from full time when Paulinho outjumped Caceres at the far post to head a corner from Neymar past Muslera and make it 2-1. There was some late pressure from Uruguay in stoppage time and Muslera even came up for a couple of corners, but Brazil withstood and booked their place in Sunday’s final. Neymar lost his record of scoring in every game of the tournament but once again he was the most influential player on the pitch and created both goals. The only downside of his performance was the amount of time he spent rolling around on the pitch.