(BBC) Brazil scraped into the final of the Confederations Cup with victory in an emotional and highly-charged encounter at the Estadio Mineirao yesterday.]
Paulinho’s late header ensured the Selecao finally saw off a resilient Uruguay to set up a clash with Spain or Italy in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
Fred had given Brazil a scarcely-deserved first-half lead, prodding home Neymar’s cross. But Uruguay hit back shortly after the interval when Edinson Cavani capitalised on an error from Brazil captain Thiago Silva to strike a low shot beyond Julio Cesar.
Home goalkeeper Cesar had earlier saved Diego Forlan’s first-half penalty, after David Luiz pulled down Uruguay captain Diego Lugano.
This was a test of character and spirit for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil but the jubilation among the players and coaching staff at the final whistle showed just how much this meant. Brazil never approached their fluent best but they did just enough to get over the line.
The build-up had been every bit as passionate and spiky as the game itself. Cesar had described the rivalry between the nations as more intense than that of Brazil’s with Argentina, whileUruguay captain Diego Lugano had accused Neymar of attempting to fool referees by diving.
But for all the talk, on both sides, of a fiesta of South American football, the match was fraught and fractious. Neither side found their fluency, as Uruguay drained the game of pace and momentum, quietening the crowd and adding to the mood of tension around the ground.
But it was an incident in the 14th minute, involving two players who had featured in the build-up, that changed the mood. Uruguay won a corner and as the players jostled in the penalty area, Luiz grabbed a handful of Lugano’s shirt and the Uruguay captain went to ground for a penalty.