BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) - Brazil defended their Confederations Cup title yesterday with a crushing come-from-behind 3-2 victory to inflict a cruel loss on tenacious underdogs the United States.

The five-time world champions looked out for the count after Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan put the Americans two up at half-time but they bounced back with a Luis Fabiano brace drawing them level with 16 minutes left.

It set the scene for an exciting finale and captain Lucio made it a memorable night with a powerful header from an Elano corner with six minutes remaining.

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

The victory sparked wild celebrations on the bench with Brazil now having won a gruelling seven games over the past 20 days - five at the Confederations Cup and two in World Cup qualifying.

It was their third Confederations Cup crown following triumphs in 1997 and 2005.

Brazil had won 14 of their 15 previous encounters with the US and beaten Bob Bradley’s men 3-0 in the group stages. But since that match the US fortunes changed dramatically.

After trouncing Egypt 3-0 to sneak into the knockout rounds on goals scored after finishing equal of points and goal difference with Italy, they shocked European champions Spain 2-0 in the semi-finals.

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

But their luck ran out against Brazil.
“That defeat really hurt,” said Bradley.

“I’m extremely proud of my players, but it still feels pretty lousy to let this one get away.

“I hope though that people around the world see we have good team and great players and it is a big step forward.”

On a cold winter’s night, his giantkillers began in an attacking mood with Fulham’s Dempsey making the first attempt on goal with a long-distance strike that fizzed wide.

Brazil started feeding the ball to Maicon on the right and he lofted several crosses into the box that put the US under pressure before Real Madrid’s new signing Kaka glanced a header wide.

Dunga said before the match he wanted an early goal but it was the US who stunned Brazil after 10 minutes.
West Ham’s Jonathan Spector fed Dempsey with a defence-splitting through ball and the number eight cleverly put his shot under the diving Julio Cesar.

Brazil immediately charged back with Robinho attempting to angle a side-footed shot past Everton stopper Tim Howard but the United States kept up the pressure and Dempsey went close once again.

It was end to end stuff and Felipe Melo forced a fine save from Howard before the US pounced again with a lightning quick counter-attack.

The dangerous Landon Donovan picked the ball up in his own half and found the sprinting Charlie Davies on the left.

It was two against two and the US came off better with Davies returning the ball to Donovan who crashed the ball into the net after 27 minutes.

Brazil looked hard for a way back but Howard was a rock and they went to the break needing something special.

Fabinao provided it seconds after the restart when he caught the US napping, turning well from 17 yards to beat Howard and get his team back in the match.

Maicon had two good opportunities to draw them level as Brazil pressed with searching passes into the US penalty area, while Kaka saw his header come agonisingly close when Howard pushed the ball onto the bar.

The US had lost composure and it was a desperate rearguard action and the equalisier was inevitable when Kaka crossed from the left and Robinho’s shot hit the bar only for Fabiano to meet the rebound.

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

BRASIL WON THE FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP-09

Brazil were on a mission and it was no surprise when Lucio bagged the winner to break American hearts.

Earlier, European champions Spain clinched the third-place play-off 3-2 in an extra-time thriller against South Africa in Rustenburg with unsettled Liverpool star Xabi Alonso netting the winner.

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