Confederations Cup: Dani Alves is the Difference. Brazil 1 – South Africa 0

27 06 2009

Alves

South Africa went toe to toe with the Seleção for 88 minutes, which is no mean feat. But Dani Alves came off the bench, played out of position and buried the above free kick to put Brazil through to Sunday’s final.

In many ways this game was a lot more even that USA vs Spain semi-final. Possession in both matches was split 56% to 44% in favour of the higher ranked team, but Spain outshot the USA 29-9 yesterday. Today it was only 17-14 Brazil, and could have gone either way.

Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena was an absolute rock at the back. Portsmouth fans will have enjoyed his performance. And in many ways South Africa’s fullbacks Siboniso Gaxa (on the right) and Tsepo Masilela (on the left) were more Brazilian than the Brazilians in terms of bombing forward.

Hopes of a decent performance from the hosts in 2010 now seem realistic, and they were unlucky not to make the final today. Instead they play Spain for Third Place on Saturday (kick off is 3pm local, 2pm UK time, 9am US Eastern), which is still a respectable achievement.

The difference of course was Dani Alves’ 88th minute free kick. He was only on the pitch to end leftback Andre Santos’ miserable afternoon, but there was a strange air of inevitability when he stepped up to strike the ball. He didn’t bend it, he just hit it – hard – into the upper far corner.

So 1-0 to Brazil, and they’ll now play USA in the 2009 Confederations Cup Final on Sunday. Kick off is 8:30pm local, 7:30pm UK time, 2:30 pm US Eastern

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