Brazil showed their undeniable class in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 in Johannesburg, fighting back from two goals down at the interval to sink the courageous Americans 3-2. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan grabbed goals in the first period, but the South American champions roared back with a Luis Fabiano brace and a Lucio header to pick up their third FIFA Confederations Cup crown.
The United States not only heeded their coach's pre-game battle cry by not conceding an early goal, but they ran out and notched a surprise opener for themselves after only ten minutes. A lovely cross from right-back Jonathan Spector was met on the volley by Clint Dempsey and guided gently inside the back post by the Fulham striker.
The Brazilians, just three minutes after being stunned by the well-crafted American goal, marched right up the other end, Manchester City star Robinho forcing Tim Howard into a fine save with a curling shot from the edge of the box. The USA seemed to know that trying to defend a 1-0 lead for too long against a team as dangerous as Brazil would be asking for trouble, so continued to try and press the ball high up the field.
The South American champions and five-time FIFA World Cup™-winners, who beat the United States 3-0 earlier in the competition, were clearly caught off-guard by the force of a motivated and confident Stars and Stripes side. Felipe Melo's snapshot in the 25th minute and Maicon's vicious strike from a tight angle shortly after were both well saved by Howard, but cause for some cautious optimism in the Brazilian camp.
In the 27th minute, hope turned to horror for the Seleção. A lightning counter-attack, which was very similar to the goal Robinho scored against the USA ten days ago in Pretoria, led to the Americans doubling their lead. Capitalising on a rare error in the Brazilian build-up, pacy youngster Charlie Davies collected the ball on the left and fed all-time top scorer Landon Donovan, who kept his cool to finish low past Julio Cesar.
With desperation creeping into their game, Brazil nearly cut the deficit with ten minutes to go with a snap-shot from close range by Felipe Melo after a slide-rule Robinho ball. Howard was equal to the task, however, and he repeated the dose when Robinho fired one in minutes before the interval, underlining the form which has earned the Everton custodian the adidas Golden Glove.
Brazil were out of their changing room well before the US, eager to mount a famous comeback. They didn't have to wait long to cut the American lead in half as Maicon fed Luis Fabiano just inside the area. The Sevilla hit-man swivelled brilliantly, slamming through Jay Demerit's legs and past Howard with only seconds gone in the half for his fourth goal of the competition. It was the first goal conceded by the Americans in 254 consecutive minutes of football.
The goal had the predictable effect of inspiring the Auriverde and Kaka, subsequently awarded the adidas Golden Ball for the tournament's best player, began to assert his sizable influence on proceedings. In the 59th minute a Brazil corner was nodded dangerously towards goal by Lucio, and after Howard fumbled the ball, Gilberto Silva fired over with a wild shot. Kaka's header two minutes later from close range flew up off the ground and bobbled off post and crossbar before the US keeper managed to grab hold, wagging his finger defiantly against claims that the ball went over the line.
The 74th minute finally brought Brazil's equaliser, sealing Luis Fabiano's place as top scorer and winner of the adidas Golden Shoe in the process. A sharp low cross from Kaka on the left was hit off the underside of the bar by Robinho, but the lethal Fabiano was on hand to nod home for his fifth goal in five games. The fight-back was then completed with just six minutes to go when a corner kick from Elano was met by a thumping header from Canarinha captain Lucio which flew in off Howard's post.