Two goals from Fred and one from Neymar sealed a thoroughly deserved 3-0 win for Brazil over Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup in Rio de Janeiro. The comprehensive victory has confirmed Brazil’s status as clear favourites to lift the World Cup next year.
Spain were expected to prove tough opposition but fell behind in only the second minute of the game when Fred claimed a scrappy goal from close in. The Fluminense striker capitalised on a rebound to poke the ball past Casillas in the Spanish goal and set the tone for match.
Spain tried to find a way back into the match but were hustled and harried by an unusually physical Brazilian side that seemed intent on breaking up the fluid passing style of their opponents. Brazil should have been two up when Oscar fired narrowly wide from inside the penalty box.
Another chance went begging when Fred was played through only to hit the legs of the on-rushing keeper. Spain were always on the back foot but almost drew level when Pedro curled the ball beyond Cesar following a breakaway. David Luiz rescued Brazil with a sliding goal-line clearance and within minutes his side were two goals to the good.
A neat exchange of passes between Oscar and Neymar ended with the striker beating Casillas at the near post with a fierce strike. The game was over as a contest early in the second half when Fred curled the ball inside the far post to make it 3-0.
Spain spurned an opportunity to claw their way back into the match when Ramos fired a penalty kick wide following a foul on Jesus Navas. Spain’s misery was complete when Pique was sent off for a cynical foul on Neymar.
Spain have been pushed out to 5-1 behind 7-2 favourites Brazil for the World Cup. The Brazilians will have taken great encouragement from their performance at this tournament with victories over Italy, Uruguay and Spain. Neymar and Fred enjoyed a successful competition with plenty of promise from Oscar and others for the future.
The tournament victory will be especially important to coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. His return to Brazil has not been greeted with universal approval and he was the target of abuse during the recent friendly against England. All of that appeared to be forgotten as the Brazilian fans celebrated long into the night.