Mission one accomplished for Brazil
Brazil confirmed their status as one of the tournament favourites when they rounded off their perfect Group A campaign with a comprehensive victory over the United States to move comfortably into the quarter-finals. Alexandre Soares' men barely broke sweat as they eased to a 10-6 win that spelt the end of the Americans' dream.
Despite the win, Soares was not entirely pleased with his team's efforts: "I warned them about losing their concentration, and we were sloppy at times, particularly with our marking in the closing stages. It wasn't just because we were virtually through - I think some of the players were also worried about getting injured. We mustn't let it happen in the quarters, though, because if you lose, you're out," he warned.
Front man Benjamin was the hosts' man of the day as he capped a three-goal performance with another electrifying display of nutmegs, feints and acrobatics that left the Americans chasing their tails for much of the afternoon. Boosted by the number-10's supercharged performance, the hosts surged into a 6-3 lead by the end of an entertaining first period in which Roberto Ceciliano's charges tried manfully to give as good as they got.
"We didn't expect to score that many goals in the first period. That doesn't normally happen," explained the livewire Benjamin afterwards. "Perhaps we paid for it later on, but luckily we had our fans behind us and that helped us refocus and claim the win."
With the wind behind them in the second period, the hosts made their superior skills count even more as they underlined their dominance. Despite tightening up in defence, the USA looked lightweight up front, and the Brazilians took full advantage of their shortcomings with Bruno, Junior Negao and Buru extending the lead to a commanding 9-5.
Perhaps mindful of their technical superiority the Brazilians eased off the accelerator as the clock ticked down, allowing Ceciliano's side to grow in confidence. Despite exerting some sustained pressure on Pierre's goal, though, the Americans had little to show for their efforts as Brazil held on in relative comfort for a 10-6 win. Next up for the all-conquering hosts comes a last-eight clash with the second-placed team in Group B. As for their departing opponents, satisfaction can at least be gleaned from Raphael Xexeo's excellent tournament, not to mention the fact they put more goals past the Brazilians than group rivals Poland and Japan.
As he reflected on the day's action, Ceciliano tried to look on the bright side: "I grew up on the Copacabana and I knew where we had to pressurise them this morning. Still, Brazil are Brazil and if you let them get away from you, it's very difficult to pull them back. Despite that, I'm a happy man. We put in a good game."
Referees: Joao Almeida (POR), Fabio Polito (ITA), Francisco Sarmiento (ESP)