Paulinho heads Brazil into Final
© AFP

Paulinho scored a late winner to send hosts Brazil into the FIFA Confederations Cup Final as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side beat Uruguay 2-1 in Belo Horizonte.

Fred had opened the scoring in the first half after Julio Cesar had saved a Diego Forlan penalty. Edinson Cavani levelled shortly after the break before Paulinho’s dramatic late header.

After a fragmented opening period, the game burst into life after David Luiz wrestled Diego Lugano to the ground in the Brazil box. Forlan took the penalty and Julio Cesar got down low to his left-hand side to tip the ball past the post.

The stadium erupted, and it set the tone for a frenetic ten minutes, with Brazil pushing forwards and Uruguay counter-attacking. Neither side could capitalise though, and the crowd had to wait until just before the break for the opening goal.

It was written in the stars that Fred, a Belo Horizonte native, would open the scoring just before half-time. Neymar expertly received a lobbed through-ball from Paulinho in the Uruguay box before trying to lift the ball over Fernando Muslera. La Celeste’s No1 saved it, but the rebound fell to Fred, who found the net with a simple finish.

Uruguay replied immediately after the break. Suarez drove into the Brazil box before several defenders failed to clear. Thiago Silva's pass to Marcelo was intercepted by Edinson Cavani, who slammed a left-footed effort past Julio Cesar.

Brazil seemed shell-shocked for a short period, but rallied and responded with the incredible Belo Horizonte crowd behind them. They applied further pressure and Neymar was presented with a good opportunity after some intricate build-up play, but hit his shot was too close to Muslera.

A Seleção won the game in the dying moments. Neymar hit a corner to the back post and, as Muslera hesitated, Paulinho rose highest to thump his header past the Uruguay keeper. The noise inside the stadium was quite breathtaking as Paulinho was mobbed by his team-mates.

Brazil held out to secure the victory, which puts them into Sunday’s Final. The Brazilian faithful will no doubt pack into the famous Maracana to see what should prove to be an exhilarating finale to this FIFA Confederations Cup carnival.