A continental super-clash concluded dramatically last night as Brazil beat Uruguay 2-1 in the first semi-final of the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Both teams presented us with complete and fit squads - with the likes of Oscar, Hulk, Neymar and David Luiz for Brazil coming up against a deadly offensive triangle of Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlán for Uruguay.
In the early stages of the game, ecstatic Brazilian fans, who sang their national anthem long and proud, seized and breathed a sigh of relief as former Inter Milan and current Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Julio Caesar saved a very low and well struck penalty by Diego Forlán after just 13 minutes.
Uruguay sat back for most of the match - relying on set-pieces and quick counter attacks to try and lash at a Brazilian side that had not lost a match in their last 10 Confederations Cup showings.
Cavani and Suarez were constantly going back in an impressive defensive display and often Brazil were out crowded in the midfield and near the Uruguayan penalty box - an area of the pitch perfect for outstanding midfield men Maximiliano Pereira and Cristian Rodríguez.
It appeared that Uruguay head-coach Óscar Tabárez had read the Scolari-Parreira style of play well. Brazil had showed highly offensive displays in their previous matches in the group stages, and with a defensive midfield based on Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho, Brazil were essentially completely reliant on wing-play, with Hulk, Oscar and Neymar free-flowing and exchanging positions to create danger for the opposition.
By the 40th minute, Brazil’s wing-play had paid off. A well timed Paulinho pass found Neymar who followed up a brilliant run with a cheeky dink over Muslera who saved the first attempt only for the rebound to find Fred, who tapped home to give Brazil the lead.
The second-half started with Uruguay intent on snatching a goal back - Cavani took a more forward position than we had seen in the first-half.
That quickly paid off due to a defensive error and Cavani was quick to take advantage and bring the score to 1-1.
A furious battle for possession and attempts at goal followed in what was an outstanding second half.
Uruguay were becoming more adventurous on one hand, but physically drained on the other. More space allowed Brazil sight of goal, but also saw their own defence come under more stress.
And while the Uruguayan fitness levels and work rate were something to be admired, they were playing with fire.
This saw Uruguay go 2-1 down in the 85th minute after a magnificent Paulinho header secured Brazil a spot in the final - where they will await Spain or Italy.
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