Brazil beat Argentina for the first time at a World Cup since 1982 as the holders won the Third Place Playoff for the third time in their history. Tonight’s feisty encounter in St Petersburg saw Argentina play for over 50 minutes with ten men following Matías Silvestre’s first-half dismissal.
Brazil once again made changes at the heart of their defence, perhaps showing why they were playing in tonight’s match and not in tomorrow’s final in Moscow: Diego Munhoz and Rômulo replaced Dedé and Rafael Tolói from their defeat by Spain.
Three changes for Argentina after their semi-final loss to Italy: Mateo Musacchio, Miguel Ángel Stegman and Javier Mascherano coming in for Julián Velazquez, and injured pair Paulo Gamboa and Franco Zuculini.
After his disastrous display against Spain, Marcelo needed to restore his reputation as a talisman in the Brazilian defence and he was heavily involved in the opening goal. His drive towards the box pulling the Argentine defence out of shape and when his drive from eighteen yards wasn’t held by Sergio Romero, Oscar was on hand to tuck away the loose ball from twelve yards.
108 seconds after the restart, Argentina were level. Mascherano and Stegman played a neat one-two before the ball was played round the outside for Lionel Messi to latch onto and drill across goal past Rafael and in off the far post for his first goal in Russia.
In the 18th minute, Silvestre collected a yellow card when he was caught in possession by Rômulo and then held his man back as the Brazilian started to break on a counter.
Midway through the first-half Brazil retook the lead. Romero’s route to come and claim Marcelo’s in-swinging corner was blocked off by a combination of Munhoz and his own defender Silvestre, and Sandro had a simple finish at the far post to slot home.
Then came an eight minute period that killed the game for Argentina. Mascherano saw yellow for a trip on Lucas Leiva, with the resulting free-kick 25 yards out skimming the bar from Oscar. Straight up the other end, Francisco Fidalgo was also booked after he handled the ball as he went to meet Musacchio’s cross.
Peruzzi was lucky to escape a caution when he brought down Oscar 30 yards out, but was punished when as the free-kick came in, he hauled Munhoz to the ground and the Italian referee pointed to the spot. Leandro Damião put it to Romero’s left and Brazil led 3-1.
Seven minutes before the break, Silvestre and Damião were in a race down the Brazilian right with the 2014 winners looking to breakaway and put the game to bed. Matías Silvestre made a futile attempt to win the ball from behind, brought down his man, and was shown a second yellow: the thirteenth red card of the tournament.
FIFA WORLD CUP: THIRD PLACE PLAYOFF BRAZIL 3-1 ARGENTINA Oscar 10 Messi 11 Sandro 25 Silvestre s/o 38 Damião 33 pen Marcelo Silvestre Rômulo Mascherano Neymar Fidalgo Gazprom Arena, St. Petersburg