Brazil's World Cup promise undeniable
Brazil crushed world champions Spain as they won the Confederations Cup at the Maracana Stadium.
RIO DE JANEIRO - Any doubts that Brazil are serious contenders for next year's World Cup were swept away by a majestic 3-0 victory over world champions Spain as they won the Confederations Cup in front of an ecstatic crowd at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday.
Inspired by Neymar and Fred in attack, David Luiz at the back and the indefatigable Paulinho thundering around the midfield, Brazil ended Spain's record run of 29 unbeaten competitive matches and brought back memories of their glory days with their fifth straight win of the tournament.
They began with a scrappy goal from Fred after some shocking Spanish defending in the second minute, went 2-0 ahead when Neymar lashed an unstoppable angled left-foot shot past Iker Casillas a minute before halftime, and wrapped up the match and the title when Fred plundered a third with another angled shot two minutes after the re-start.
A crucial stop from Luiz after 41 minutes was vital to the victory, however.
With Brazil 1-0 ahead and Spain beginning to finally make an impact, the world champions looked set to equalise with a Pedro shot that had beaten goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
But with the ball about to cross the line, Luiz sprinted from nowhere, stuck out a leg, and diverted it away for a memorable clearance.
"I owed that one to Julio Cesar after giving away the penalty against Uruguay," he told reporters.
"I managed to pay back the debt and help the team."
Three minutes later Neymar scored at the other end and Spain were on their way to their first competitive defeat for three years.
Spain, who have dominated the world scene for the past five years with two European titles and the World Cup, were swept aside.
They suffered their biggest competitive defeat since losing 3-0 to Wales in a European qualifier 37 years ago.
Sergio Ramos, who scored in the semi-final penalty shootout victory over Italy on Thursday, fired wide with a poor penalty after 54 minutes.
Worse was to follow when fellow defender Gerard Pique was sent off for a lunge on his new Barcelona team mate Neymar who again stole the show and was named Player of the Tournament.