Juan 34, Luis Fabiano 38, Robinho 59
Brazil strolled into the quarter-finals of the World Cup with victory over South American rivals Chile. Goals from Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho sealed the win for the Brazilians who will play the Netherlands in the next round.
Gilberto Silva brought the first save of the match from Claudio Bravo after nine minutes, his 30 yard effort drawing a full stretch save from the keeper. Humberto Suazo took a shot on early at the other end in the 13th minute but his effort was weak and straight at Julio Cesar. Bravo was called into action again after 15 minutes, holding Ramires’ shot from 25 yards low down to his left. After 28 minutes, Juan headed a corner from Maicon wide. Six minutes later, another Maicon corner led to Brazil taking the lead. It was Juan who again met the delivery but this time his header from 10 yards at the back post went right into the top corner. It took just four minutes for Fabiano to double the advantage. Robinho played a low ball infield and Kaka played Fabiano in with his first touch, the striker then rounding Bravo and slotting into the empty net. Two minutes before the break, Maicon drilled in a cross but Fabiano could only divert it over the bar with his head.
It was three just before the hour when Ramires went on a storming run through the middle of the Chile side before feeding Robinho, who curled first time into the corner from the edge of the area. Dani Alves was within a whisker of adding another goal two minutes later, firing a swerving effort just past the post from 35 yards. Kaka curled just wide from 25 yards with 20 minutes remaining before Robinho ran from the halfway line and shot from an angle, Bravo having to dive to palm it away. Suazo tested Cesar 15 minutes from time, tricking his way past Lucio and forcing a save from the keeper. Three minutes later, Suazo volleyed into the ground and the ball looped up on to the bar and over. Nilmar should have made it four for Brazil, heading wide at the back post before Jean Beausejour fired just wide across goal as the Chilean search for a consolation proved fruitless.
The first goal was as un-Brazilian as could be imagined but came in a style that has become a feature of Dunga’s side. Coming just minutes after Juan had headed another Maicon corner wide, the goal was a simple header from a set piece. Brazil sides of old were revered for their passing moves and aesthetically pleasing goals but this current team recognise that a goal of such simplicity as a header from a corner counts for exactly the same as a goal that began in their own half. In Juan and Lucio, Brazil possess two centre-backs who are highly adept in the air, making them prime and regular targets for the expert delivery provided by their flair players. It was a Lucio header that won the Confederations Cup final against United States a year ago for Brazil, and it was a header from his defensive partner Juan that set them on the way to this victory after they had initially struggled to break Chile down.
The second goal was aided by a superb call from English assistant referee Darren Cann. With the pace that Kaka moved Robinho’s pass on to Fabiano, it would have been easy for the linesman to have instinctively stuck out his flag with the striker close to straying offside. Instead, he held his flag back every bit as well as Fabiano held his run and Brazil were rewarded with an excellent second goal as the Sevilla forward rounded Bravo to score. Cann made another first rate call last Thursday to correctly deny Fabio Quagliarella an equalising goal for Italy against Slovakia, spotting that the Italian striker was marginally offside. After some bizarre calls from officials over the last couple of days, it was a relief to see such a fine goal correctly allowed to stand.
Chile had started the game brightly and controlled large parts of the early possession, denying Brazil the chance to threaten from anything but set pieces and long range shots. Having had to make three enforced changes to their defensive setup due to suspensions, it was an impressively assured start but unfortunately not one that lasted. For all their attacking intent, there was no end product, something that had become apparent in their record of just three goals from three group games. The opening Brazil goal knocked a lot of the belief from the Chileans who had been beaten comfortably by the Brazilians in both their qualification matches and the second goal soon after effectively ended their hopes. That is not to say they did not give everything they had to get back into the game, but they never looked like opening up their superior opponents.
Brazil now meet the Netherlands in the quarter-finals in Port Elizabeth on Friday. The Dutch have not yet looked like they are playing to their full potential but they have won all four of their games at this World Cup. Their formation is very similar to that played by Brazil with two holding midfielders and one striker ahead of three support players. The biggest difference is that the majority of the Dutch width comes from their wingers with their full-backs less adventurous that the Brazilian pair. The biggest worry for Brazil will be how Michel Bastos copes at left-back against Arjen Robben. Bastos dealt well with Chilean dangerman Alexis Sanchez tonight but Robben in full flow is on a different level. If Brazil can nullify his threat cutting in from the right and get a hold on midfield, then they should be able to get at the untested Dutch defence and earn their place in the semi-finals.
Brazil – Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio (c), Juan, Michel Bastos, Daniel, Gilberto Silva, Kaka (Kleberson 81), Ramires, Luis Fabiano (Nilmar 76), Robinho (Gilberto 85)
Chile – Bravo (c), Fuentes, Isla (Rodrigo Millar 62), Contreras (Tello 46), Jara, Carmona, Vidal, Gonzalez, Sanchez, Suazo, Beausejour