Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Brazil win 2007 Copa America

Brazil win 2007 Copa America.
Brazil win 2007 Copa America

Brazil confounded the doubters to bag their fourth Copa America title in five, beating much-fancied Argentina 3-0 in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

The two South American giants had met in the previous final in 2004 in Peru, which Brazil had won on penalties after a 2-2 draw, but it was their old rivals who had been the more impressive going into this game.

Brazil had lost their opening match 2-0 to Mexico while Argentina had dazzled the tournament with some fireworks football, blitzing all opposition including Mexico 3-0 in the semi-final.

Much was expected of their three musketeers of Juan Riquelme, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi, but before the albiceleste could find their feet in the 34C Venezuelan afternoon, Julio Baptista gave Brazil a dream start with a thumping strike in the fourth minute.

Baptista, who was on loan at Arsenal from Real Madrid last season, picked up a long spear from Elano, took two taps to beat veteran Roberto Ayala and then rifled past a frozen Roberto Abbondanzieri in the Argentina goal to give Brazil the lead.

Riquelme hit the post with Argentina’s first attack five minutes later and a dream final looked in the making.

Argentina then took the game to Brazil but always looked vulnerable to a swift counter from their more muscular opponents.

Riquelme then drew a diving save from Brazil goalie Doni before disaster struck again for the albiceleste.

Five minutes before the break, Daniel Alves swung over a cross from the right and the unlucky Ayala, threatened by the lurking Vagner Love, stretched and turned the ball into his own net.

Two-nil down, Argentina laboured hard in their efforts to eke out a comeback, only to succumb again to a break in the 69th minute.

Vagner Love carried the ball forward against the retreating Argentina defenders before releasing Alves, who found the net with an inch-perfect diagonal drive to make it 3-0.

Carlos was the victim of a split-second offside call error late on as he found the goal, but otherwise his country was well-beaten by the hitherto-underrated holders.

Leo Messi.

Brazil’s strength and power comfortably dominated Argentina’s skill and finesse, and every time the albiceleste strove to drag themselves back into the match, their silky techinique ran aground against a yellow wall of rugged tackles and massed defending.

The trophy represents a triumph for coach Dunga, golden boot winner Robinho and the Brazilian national team as a whole after the let-down of the 2006 World Cup.

The victory also reminds the rest of the football world that you write off the sele├žao at your peril. With Brazil top of the South American tree once more, normal service is restored to world soccer.

Copa America Final 2007, Maracaibo, Venezuela

Brazil 3:0 Argentina

Julio Baptista 4’
o.g. Vagner Love 40’
Alves 69’

Argentina: Abbondanzieri, Zanetti, Ayala, Milito, Heinze, Veron (Gonzalez 67'), Mascherano, Cambiasso (Aimar 59'), Riquelme, Messi, Tevez. Coach: Alfio Basile.

Brazil: Doni, Maicon, Juan, Alex Costa, Gilberto, Elano (Alves 34'), Mineiro, Josue, Julio Baptista, Robinho (Diego 90') , Vagner Love (Fernando 90'). Manager: Carlos Dunga.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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