Brazil produced their best performance of Egypt 2009 thus far to advance to the quarter-finals with a thoroughly deserved 3-1 victory over Uruguay. Three goals in a devastating nine-minute spell put paid to the challenge of La Celeste, who battled bravely but were ultimately outclassed by a scintillating Seleção.
With the two qualifying contests between these sides having yielded ten goals and drama aplenty, fans had arrived in Port Said anticipating a classic. They weren't disappointed. A fiery opening that witnessed Alan Kardec commit the first foul inside two seconds set the tone for a match that frequently had the supporters off their seats. Brazil, back at the venue that had staged all three of their group games, certainly looked very much at home as they produced some exceptional football to put the Uruguayans immediately on the back foot.
For La Celeste, the first warning sign came as early as the sixth minute, when Diogo won a free-kick from which Giuliano curled a superb right-foot shot around the wall and just past the top right-hand corner. Abel Hernandez, scorer of three goals in those preliminary meetings, tested Rafael at the other end, but Brazil continued to dominate and took a deserved lead after 22 minutes.
Punishing some hesitancy on the Uruguayan left, Paulo Henrique snatched possession before racing forward and releasing Alan Kardec. The Seleção No9 had Giuliano supporting but, like any true striker, he went straight for goal, beating Martin Rodriguez with a powerful low right-foot drive into the far corner of the net. Brazil were irresistible at this stage and, just two minutes later, they doubled their advantage with a goal straight out of the top drawer.
Poor Uruguay were carved open in a matter of seconds as a slick, fast-paced move ended with right-back Douglas beating Leandro Cabrera with a delightful piece on ingenuity before delivering an unselfish cut-back for Alex Teixeira to fire high into the net. Uruguay were in real trouble, and they would have been three behind soon after but for a superb save from Rodriguez to tip over a curling right-foot shot from the increasingly influential Giuliano.
The intuitive understanding between Brazil's No10 and Alex Teixeira was a joy to watch throughout, and this devastating double act were involved as Brazil scored their third, and best, goal with 31 minutes on the clock. Once again, Uruguay were exposed on the left flank, with the classy Paulo Henrique striding forward from inside his own half and slipping the ball wide to Alex Texeira. The Seleção No7 still had a lot of work to do but, typically, he made it look easy, jinking past past Marcelo Silva on the right-hand edge of the box before curling a delightful left-foot shot into the top left-hand corner.
Uruguay looked to be down and out, but it was to their credit that they never allowed their heads to drop. And they at least ensured an exciting second half when Hernandez set up Jonathan Urretaviscaya to reduce the deficit from close range with nine minutes of the first half remaining. Diego Aguirre then attempted to add some urgency to his side's attack by bringing on Tabare Viudez at half time, and the substitute nearly made an immediate impact, driving in from the left within a couple of minutes of the restart and forcing Rafael into a solid save with a low right-foot shot
In truth, however, Brazil remained the most likely to add to the scoring, and ten minutes later, yet more outstanding link-up play between Giuliano and Alex Teixeira saw the No10 beat his marker and tee up his team-mate for a right-foot shout that curled just wide of the post. Alan Kardec then missed a glorious chance, cutting inside his marker only to scuff his shot with the goal beckoning, while Rodriguez again proved his worth by instinctively blocking with his feet when Alex Teixeira looked certain to complete his hat-trick.
Yet, ultimately, it was a player at the other end who settled the game in Brazil's favour. Rafael, the villain against Australia thanks to a comical error, restored his reputation by saving an 87th-minute penalty, guessing right and diving low to his left to push away Hernandez's disappointing effort. Brazil now march on to a quarter-final with the winner of Germany's match against Nigeria later this evening.