Brazil storm engulfs swamped Argentina
THE DAY REPLAYED - Lightning lit up the skies above Frankfurt's Waldstadion on Wednesday night but on the pitch it was Brazil whose flashes of inspiration illuminated the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 final and secured yet another honour for Carlos Alberto Parreira's world champions at the expense of arch-rivals Argentina.
While the Seleção were celebrating a 4-1 victory, it was also a good day for hosts Germany whose final competitive appearance before next summer's FIFA World Cup finals brought a 4-3 extra-time victory over Mexico in the play-off for third place.
In Frankfurt, Brazil delivered a sizeable dose of their own medicine to an Argentina side who had eclipsed them in the first half of the sides' Germany 2006 qualifier in Buenos Aires three weeks earlier. Then Argentina went two goals up inside 18 minutes; this time it took Brazil only 16 minutes to establish a two-goal lead and the foundations for an ultimately comfortable victory.
Adriano opened the scoring after 11 minutes with another contender in his own personal goal of the tournament competition. The big No9 rode a challenge from Gabriel Heinze and with his left boot flashed an unstoppable drive past German Lux. Five minutes later it was 2-0 as Kaka found the opposite corner with a lovely curled effort.
If Jose Pekerman had harsh words for his Argentina players at the interval, he must have been muttering some even stronger ones two minutes after the restart when Anheuser Busch Man of the Match Ronaldinho volleyed in Brazil's third goal. The outcome now seemed beyond doubt and so it proved, although further goals followed as Adriano and Pablo Aimar traded headers shortly after the hour. For Brazil then, a second FIFA Confederations Cup success to add to their 1997 triumph, while Argentina's wait for a first major trophy since 1993 goes on.
While Frankfurt faced a deluge the roof over the Waldstadion kept all but one small corner of the turf dry - in Leipzig's Zentralstadion they got a flood of goals as Germany departed the tournament in the same manner they had entered it: with a 4-3 victory. Again it was Jekyll and Hyde stuff from the hosts whose coach Jurgen Klinsmann must be delighted by a return of 15 goals from five games, but considerably less pleased by the 11 goals leaked at the other end.
In a four-minute spell late in the first half, the Mannschaft took the lead through Lukas Podolski's sweet drive, lost it as Jose Francisco Fonseca levelled, and then reclaimed it through Bastian Schweinsteiger. After Mike Hanke was red carded on 54 minutes, Jared Borgetti's trusty head then brought the Mexicans' second equaliser but despite being a man down, Germany were not finished. Robert Huth struck their third and although that man Borgetti forced extra time with the tournament's 50th goal, Michael Ballack's dead-ball strike in the 97th minute ensured Germany's campaign ended on a winning note.
Brazil took the lion's share of the individual awards as well. Skipper Ronaldinho finished the tournament with the adidas Bronze Ball for the third best player. Argentina's Juan Riquelme collected the Silver Ball but it was Adriano who received the Golden Ball, and the Brazilian striker was not finished there. His two goals in the final meant he finished as the five-goal top scorer, earning him the adidas Golden Shoe award ahead of Ballack with the Silver shoe and John Aloisi with the Bronze shoe. The FIFA Fair Play award went to Mexico.
It is Brazil who go home with the main prize, of course, and after their showing on this stormy night in Frankfurt it is tempting to wonder whether we will see lightning strike twice at the FIFA World Cup next year. You suspect this was the last thing on the minds of the men in canary yellow, however, as they danced in celebration across the pitch.