Confederations Cup action round-up – Brazil edge narrowly into final

Semi-final

June 25, 2009

South Africa 0-1 Brazil

Brazil made just one change to the starting XI that beat the Azzurri, lining up in their familiar 4-4-2 formation. Luisao replaced Juan, who has now been ruled out for the rest of the tournament, at centre-half while Kleber, Elano and Dani Alves all had to settle for places on the bench. South Africa also implemented just one change to their starting line-up, with Siphiwe Tshabalala replacing the suspended MacBeth Sibaya in centre-midfield and Steven Pienaar employed as playmaker.

The opening minutes produced little in the way of chances as the teams exchanged possession but with little penetration. Brazil started the shot count 12 minutes in when Ramires forced Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, into a save from just outside the area. South Africa responded immediately however with an effort of their own. Siboniso Gaxa pushed on from right-back before cutting inside and rifling a shot with the angle against him. Julio Cesar had the shot covered as it whistled wide but it certainly proved a warning for the Brazilian defence.

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As the 20-minute mark passed, South Africa produced an opportunity which should have seen them break the deadlock. Tsholofelo Modise’s freekick found Aaron Mokoena free in the box after escaping his marker Lucio, but the South African captain failed to hit the target. Tshabalala was next to take aim at the Brazilian goal when he lined up a freekick from 30 yards, but his strike towards the top corner never deviated, making it a routine save for Julio Cesar at the expense of a corner kick. South Africa failed to produce anything from the set-piece and once again the game returned to possession football for both sides.

Left-back Andre Santos’ volley was the only shot of note before Kaka fashioned a first chance of the evening for himself. Bringing down Gilberto Silva’s pass on his chest, Real Madrid’s new superstar accelerated at the back four, twisting past two defenders before curling the ball narrowly wide of Khune’s goal. And it was Kaka once again who created the next chance, this time driving at Matthew Booth before shooting low to Khune’s left. Khune’s save and quick distribution sent South Africa on their way and Steven Pienaar took advantage of the space granted to him, forcing Julio Cesar to tip the ball around his post from long-range. Neither team managed to produce any attempts from inside the penalty area in the whole of the first half. And like Spain on Wednesday evening, Dunga’s men found themselves outnumbered in most attacks while struggling to create any clear-cut chances. Unlike the United States however, South Africa had failed to establish a lead and once more they would have to attack Brazil if they wanted to take the game.

Bernard Parker and Robinho produced shots that interrupted an otherwise flat opening to the second half before the South African crowd roared to life as the 60th minute approached with Joel Santana’s team instantly responding. A Modise strike deflected wickedly to send Julio Cesar completely the wrong way, only for the Brazilian goalkeeper to push the ball away at full stretch. Brazil began to retain possession however, snatching away the home team’s momentum and creating opportunities for themselves, first from Luis Fabiano and then Robinho.

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The second period proved a tight affair with few opportunities after this. But with extra time approaching and only four minutes of the 90 remaining, Daniel Alves, on as a substitute for Andre Santos, struck his freekick from 20 yards around the wall and beyond the despairing Khune’s dive into the corner of the net.

Alves was involved again moments later when Brazil missed an opportunity to double their advantage. Storming into the South African half, the Barcelona right-back skipped past two defenders before releasing Luis Fabiano one-on-one with Khune. However, his effort was weak and the South African custodian easily deflected the ball away to safety. Bafana Bafana could not summon anything to worry Brazil as the Copa America holders played out the game in the corners to secure their place in the final on Sunday. South Africa had failed to take the game to Brazil despite producing opportunities to cause another major shock and eventually paid the price. They will now face Spain in the early kick-off on Sunday to compete for third place in the tournament.

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup fixtures & results

Group A

South Africa 0-0 Iraq – June 14, 2009 – Johannesburg

Spain 5-0 New Zealand – June 14, 2009 – Rustenburg

Spain 1-0 Iraq – June 17, 2009 – Bloemfontein

South Africa 2-0 New Zealand – June 17, 2009 – Rustenburg

New Zealand 0-0 Iraq – June 20, 2009 – Johannesburg

South Africa 0-2 Spain – June 20, 2009 – Bloemfontein

Standings after three games – Spain 9, South Africa 4, Iraq 2, New Zealand 1

Group B

Brazil 4-3 Egypt – June 15, 2009 -Bloemfontein

Italy 3-1 USA – June 15, 2009 – Pretoria

USA 0-3 Brazil– June 18, 2009 – Pretoria

Italy 0-1 Egypt – June 18, 2009 – Johannesburg

Italy 0-3 Brazil – June 21, 2009 – Pretoria

Egypt 0-3 USA – June 21, 2009 – Rustenburg

Standings after three games – Brazil 9, USA 3, Italy 3, Egypt 3

Semi-finals

Spain 0-2 USA – June 24, 2009 – Bloemfontein

Brazil 1-0 South Africa – June 25, 2009 -Johannesburg

Third place play-off

Spain vs. South Africa – June 28, 2009 – Rustenburg

Final

USA vs. Brazil – June 28, 2009 – Johannesburg


Italy at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

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