Brazil 3 (Fred 2, 47, Neymar 44)
Maracana, Rio de Janeiro. Temp. 23°C, wind 9 mph, mostly cloudy. Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho (Hernanes 88), Oscar, Fred (Jo 80), Hulk (Jadson 73), Neymar.
Spain: Casillas, Ramos, Arbeloa (Azpilicueta 46), Pique, Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Torres (Villa 59), Mata (Navas 52), Pedro.
Brazil impressively swept aside the challenge of Spain and were totally unfazed by the pressure of competing in a final in front of their own fans as they scored three goals without reply to retain the FIFA Confederations Cup, making it three wins in a row and their fourth triumph in the history of the tournament. Once again their star player, Neymar, was on song and they tormented the Spanish defence for ninety minutes whilst largely snuffing out any hint of a threat at the other end.
Nerves were settled early on as Brazil once again struck in the opening minutes. All three of their front line were involved in the move that led to Fred’s second minute strike, with Hulk crossing from the right for Neymar to knock it down to Fred and the Fluminense striker scooped it in. Brazil kept the pressure on and their fast start clearly rattled Spain, who struggled to cope with the speed and movement of the selecao attack. Both Arbeloa and ramos were booked before the half hour mark and just as Spain were looking forward to a chance to rest and regroup over half time, their task got much harder as Neymar fired in the second goal of the night.
The struggling Arbeloa was replaced with the more attacking Chelsea right-back Cesar Azpilicueta at the interval but he didn’t have time to make an impact before Fred effectively wrapped it up for Brazil with his second and their third on the game within two minutes of the restart. Spain looked to have been handed a route back into the game six minutes later when they were awarded a spot kick for Marcelo’s trip on Jesus Navas, but Sergio Ramos struck the penalty wide of the goal and any lingering hopes of a comeback were finally extinguished in the sixty eighth minute when centre-back Gerard Pique was dismissed for a foul on Neymar.
Jadson, Jo and Hernanes were introduced for Brazil late on as manager Luiz Felipe Scolari tried to give as many of his players as possible a chance to experience winning the final of a major international tournament before the real thing starts next summer. They saw out the game without difficulty to spark celebrations across the city and country and raise expectations sky high that they will repeat the success in the World Cup in twelve months’ time. The impressive nature of their win over the world champions has certainly quietened any of Scolari’s doubters and on this form his team can mount a real challenge for the World Cup. Spain have had a wake up call after a record breaking unbeaten run in competitive matches, but they have plenty of time to put their house in order before the main event and they will also still be strong contenders.