Fitting finale to Confed Cup

2009-06-29 00:00

AFTER a spectacular feast of football over the past two weeks, the 2009 Confederations Cup final at Ellis Park last night was a fitting, dramatic finale as Brazil produced a sublime performance to come back from 2-0 down for a 3-2 victory over the USA.

The first Confederations Cup on African soil did not go off without a hitch, but it did almost and the glitches will be ironed out ahead of the 2010 World Cup kickoff.

The crowds in the stadiums have reflected the Rainbow Nation. A tournament marked by colour, passionate fans, cracking goals and fast, competitive football ended with Brazil captain Lucio lifting the trophy for the world’s most-loved team.

Brazil scored 14 goals in the competition — their lowest score was in their 1-0 win over South Africa in the semi-finals — and with their third Confed Cup victory, Dunga’s team have set themselves up as favourites to win their sixth World Cup title next year.

The Brazilians could have had some tired limbs going into the final with this being their seventh high-intensity international in 23 days.

The U.S. played to this and, from Swedish referee Martin Hansson’s first whistle, they approached the final at 200 miles per hour to stun Brazil with two goals inside the first half-hour. But the South American champions wrested control with their skill and sublime passing, finishing the second half the stronger team.

Then they stepped up the intensity to overwhelm the U.S. from the moment tournament top scorer Luis Fabiano stabbed home just seconds after the break until Lucio headed in the 84th-minute winner.

The cold weather, which has been perfect for fast-paced football in this tournament, played into the hands of the U.S.’s frenetic approach early on.

The Americans did not have long to wait for a goal. Clint Dempsey, scorer of crucial goals in the 3-0 group stage victory over Egypt and 2-0 semi-final win over Spain, got the opening strike in the 10th minute.

Oguchi Onyewu’s free-kick from right midfield found Dempsey lurking on the right of the area and the midfielder was able to get a touch to sweep in the U.S.’s opener.

Brazil tried to use their skill to break down the hard-working Americans. Kaka turned in midfield to beat Jay Demerit and released Robinho down the left, whose shot was palmed for a corner by goalkeeper Tim Howard. Then the Everton goalkeeper made another save from a powerful shot from Felipe Melo.

The U.S. made it 2-0 with a breakaway goal in the 29th minute. Charlie Davies got the final touch to veteran left playmaker Landon Donovan, who slid home a finish past Julio Cesar from the edge of the area.

Seconds into the second half, Brazil did finally pry an opening in the middle when Maicon’s pass found Fabiano on the edge of the area. He had just enough space to turn and produce a deadly finish past Howard. With that goal the Brazilian nudged back ahead of Dempsey as the Confed’s top scorer with four strikes.

Then, controversially, Kaka’s header into the ground was palmed out by the Everton goalkeeper, but replays showed the ball had crossed the line.

Brazil equalised in the 74th minute when Kaka ghosted past Jonathon Spector on the left and passed inside where Robinho’s shot cannonned off the bar and Fabiano nodded in from the rebound.

It was all over for the U.S. when Lucio got up to bury substitute Elano’s corner in the 84th minute.

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