The hosts came through a seven-goal thriller in Porto Alegre this afternoon courtesy of a Vágner Love hat-trick, but will be without Ganso and Daniel Alves for Wednesday’s must-win final Group C match against Iran.
They got off to the worst possible start when Stanislav Sestak drilled a ball across the face of the six-yard box in the 18th minute. Thiago Silva swung a foot at it under pressure from Adam Nemec, sliced it horribly straight at Diego Cavalieri, with the Brazilian ‘keeper deflecting the ball past himself into the back of the net.
Shortly after began a crazy three minutes which turned the game on its head. First came a caution for Ganso after he clattered through Karim Guédé in the centre circle. Ninety seconds later and Tottenham’s new £42m man Lucas Leiva crossed towards the penalty spot where Vágner Love lost his man and headed past Kelemen for an equaliser.
Straight from the kick-off, Slovakia surrendered possession when Martin Skrtel was caught with the ball by Vágner Love who cut inside the box and played a perfectly-weighted through-ball for Ganso to slot home, just fifteen seconds after the restart.
Ten minutes later and referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot after Skrtel was adjudged to have barged Vágner Love in the back. He stepped up himself and slammed the spot kick low and hard to put Brazil 3-1 up at the break.
On the hour mark, Ganso was caught in possession and tried to wrestle the ball back from Marek Hamsik, appearing to catch the PSG midfielder across the chest with a flailing arm. Webb quickly produced a second yellow card and Ganso became Brazil’s second dismissal in consecutive matches.
Slovakia made the advantage count within a minute. Brazil cleared a corner, but couldn’t prevent the ball being played back into the box by half-time sub Miroslav Stoch for Adam Nemec to head past Cavalieri.
Daniel Alves and Radoslav Zabavnik were both cautioned for squaring-up to each other ten minutes later, with the former being doubly-punished as he’ll miss the Iran game after also being booked against Croatia in the opening match.
Adam Nemec scored an equaliser with twelve minutes to play after he started and finished a move which saw Slovakia bring the ball forwards at pace, exploiting the space in midfield after Ganso’s dismissal. Nemec eventually slotting home from 15 yards after a pass from Sapara.
Into the final thirty seconds of normal time and Leiva found Bernard in plenty of space thirty yards out. Marek Hamsik, roundly booed by the home crowd, made a challenge that won the ball but sent it straight into the path of Vágner Love. He outpaced Gúedé and slid the ball home for the winning goal as the clock showed 89:53.
It was Vágner Love’s first hat-trick, the second of the tournament, and he becomes the twelfth player to score more than once in the same match here in Brazil this summer.
FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014 MATCH 21: GROUP C BRAZIL 4-3 SLOVAKIA Vágner Love 25, (pen) 37, 90 Cavalieri (og) 18 Ganso 26 Nemec 63, 78 (Ganso s/o 61) Porto Alegre
GROUP C P W D L F A GD Pts 1. Croatia 1 1 0 0 4 2 +2 3 2. Brazil 2 1 0 1 6 7 -1 3 3. Iran 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 1 4. Slovakia 2 0 1 1 4 5 -1 1