Out of the five South American teams which participated in the World Cup, one had to go home. The Cup favorites Brazil locked horns with their neighbors Chile in this thrilling Round of 16 encounter at Johannesburg; it did no good to the psyche of neutral fans as Howard Webb picked up the match-ball before the start of the match.
The pundits had already written off Chile before the match had started, and Lucio and co. didn’t disappoint with ninety minutes of sensational football.
Quite early in the first half, Gilberto Silva, of all men, sent a stinger towards the Chile keeper Bravo, who parried it away but not without a scare. Kaka, the soul of the team, took his chances too, but failed to open the scoring for Brazil.
On the 12th minute, an exquisite turn and pass from Sanchez gave Suazo a chance at goal, but the striker failed to put Chile ahead. A few minutes later, Ramirez, who was playing in place of the injured Melo, took a strike at goal from distance, but didn’t trouble the keeper.
On the 27th minute, Brazil would have got a clear penalty when Lucio was brought down in the box, but Howard Webb’s vision was clearly blocked. Kaka picked up the first booking of the day with a silly foul, resulting in a free-kick for Chile. Suazo’s effort crashed straight into the Brazilian wall.
On the 34th minute, Inter Milan full back Maicon took a picture-perfect corner, and Juan leapt above all his team-mates to score a scorching header and hand Brazil the crucial lead. Four minutes later, Robinho made a darting run from the left, played a neat ‘square-ball’ to Kaka, whose first touch found Fabiano in space, the Sevilla front-man dribbled past the keeper and gave Brazil the two-goal advantage.
Before the close of the first half, Michel Bastos’ effort went just wide of goal, while an intuitive Fabiano header from a thundering cross by Maicon bore the same result. The first half ended with the Samba boys leading 2-0.
Nine minutes into the second half, Brazil’s captain and talisman Lucio made a bursting run into the opposition half but failed to deliver a killer ball to Robinho. Five minutes later, Ramirez gained possession of the ball in the middle, darted towards the Chile box and sent a clever pass to Robinho; the Manchester City striker sent a curling ball past the keeper to give Brazil an unassailable lead.
Valdivio, who looked quite exceptional after he came on in the second half, sent a instinctive shot just over the crossbar. On the 69th minute, Bastos made a bursting run into the opposition half and found Kaka in acres of space, but the Real Madrid playmaker shot well wide of the keeper. Four minutes later, a fantastic one-touch pass from Dani Alves gave Robinho a chance to increase the lead, but his shot was well saved by Bravo.
On the 74th minute, after some incredible twists and turns, Suazo sent a shot towards the Brazilian goal, which was comfortably pouched by Inter Milan custodian Julio Cesar. The same striker hit the crossbar with a dump-volley from a corner which looped over the keeper, bounced over the bar and went out of the ground.
Chile had a few more chances towards the closing minutes with a neat exchange of passes; but truth to be told, they were simply not good enough. Their illustrious opponents were far superior with possession and creativity. The match ended with a 3-0 scoreline, sending Chile back home, but the red hot Chile peppers won a lot of fans with their attractive brand of football.
TheHardTackle’s Player Of The Match:
The ever-dependable Center Back not only put in a powerful defensive display but ensure that his team got the first goal of the match. Of a fantastic coner from Maicon, the defender leapt high and scored a thundering header.
TheHardTackle’s Referee Report Card:
Howard Webb (Eng): Grade B+
The referee arguably had his best game of his career. Officiating in his third World Cup match, the Englishman almost made no mistakes and didn’t give unnecessary bookings to spoil the flow of the match. After last night’s referee debacle, this was a pleasant day for the neutral fans.
Brazil 3-0 Chile
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Brazil Line-up:Julio Cesar, Michel Bastos, Lucio, Juan, Maicon, Dani Alves, Gilberto Silva, Ramirez, Kaka (Kleberson 82′), Robinho (Gilberto 85′), Fabiano (Nilmar 76′)
Cautions: Kaka (31′), Ramirez (72′)
Sent Offs: None
Scorers: Juan (35′), Fabiano (38′), Robinho (59′)
Chile Line-up: Bravo Munoz, Isla, Contreras, Gonzalo Reyes, Fuentes, Vidal Pardo, Carlos Tello,Mark Gonzales, Alexis Sanchez, Humberto Suazo,Jean Beausojeur
Cautions: Pardo (47′), Fuentes (58′)
Sent Offs: None