Brazil and Uruguay will contest the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup this afternoon at the legendary Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The final is the host nation’s fifth appearance in the tournament’s final since its inception in 1992, and Brazil will be looking to become the first nation to win three successive titles. Uruguay are featuring in only their second Confederations Cup, after losing in the semi-final to eventual runners-up Australia in 1997.
Both nations finished second in their group during the round-robin phase, before 2-1 wins at the semi-final stage. Brazil, who have slumped to 25th in the world rankings – mainly due to a lack of recent competitive fixtures – have scored 12 times in their four matches at the tournament, six of those coming against Tahiti. Uruguay, reigning Copa America champions, ranked 9th in the world, have two 4-0 wins under their belt so far in the competition.
Key players will be absent for both sides: Brazil’s semi-final goalscorer Lucas Leiva will miss out with a rib injury, while Ronaldinho, Gaucho and Fred all look set to miss out on the final. Uruguay will miss their top international goalscorer Diego Forlan who suffered serious ligament damage earlier in the tournament.
The first half an hour passed without any serious chances at either end, though the Argentinian referee was happily taking names and showing yellow cards for almost every foul, creating a very stop-start affair throughout. Brazil had the first gilt-edged chance of note, when Daniel Alves cut inside the box and slotted the ball to tournament top scorer Leandro Damiao. His strike from 10 yards beat Muslera in the Uruguaya goal but crashed back off the underside of the crossbar, before Neymar’s prod at the rebound was cleared by Coates.
As the game opened up late in the second half, both Neymar and Suarez were cautioned for diving, and briefly, amongst the theatrics and long punts upfield, a game of football almost broke out. With the match ticking into extra time, Uruguay sent on all three substitutes in a bold move which nearly paid off in extra time as the fresh legs controlled the midfield. To penalties it went though…
Daniel Alves, cautioned in injury time for time-wasting, was first up and promptly smashed his penalty against the left hand post. Maxi Pereira put Uruguay in the driving seat, before Thiago Silva and Hernandez converted both their strikes. Ramires had his weak shot well held by Muslera, but Eguera couldn’t put Uruguay 3-1 up as he blazed over the bar. Neymar, Luis Suarez and Marcelo then all converted…
It was left to the tenth penalty-taker, Diego Godin, to seal the victory for Uruguay. Sending Jefferson the wrong way, he cooly slotted home to rock the Brazilian crowd.
Top Goalscorer: Leandro Damião (Brazil), 5 goals
Player of the Tournament: Daniel Alves (Brazil)
Most Valuable Goalkeeper : Muslera (Uruguay)