A brilliant hat-trick by Nilmar saw Brazil to a 4-2 victory over Chile on Wednesday in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier and deny their opponents the victory they required to seal their place in the finals.
The 25-year-old Villarreal striker took full advantage of a rare start afforded him with Kaka suspended and both Luis Fabiano and Robinho injured. The already qualified Brazil overcame losing Felipe Melo to a red card early in the second half to maintain their proud record of never losing a FIFA World Cup qualifier at home.
Chile had looked as if they might pull off a famous victory - indeed end Brazil's unbeaten home record in competitive matches stretching back 35 years to when Peru beat them 3-1 in a Copa America game - when they pulled back to 2-2. Brazil had eased into a 2-0 lead with two delightful goals as Nilmar, playing only his tenth international over five years, got on the end of Danny Alves' cross from the right and with the outside of his right foot volleyed home.
Adriano, winning a rare start after personal problems afflicted him, almost doubled the lead a minute later as the barrel-chested striker - scorer of 29 goals in his 49 internationals - rounded the goalkeeper but his shot was cleared off the line. Brazil doubled their lead in the 41st minute as former Sevilla and Arsenal striker Julio Baptista sidefooted past the Chile goalkeeper after Alves had passed to him following a poor Chilean clearance.
The Chileans, though, fought back and reduced the deficit shortly before half-time as Melo was penalised for a foul and Humberto Suazo powered home the penalty past Julio Cesar. Melo's nightmare evening was complete in the 49th minute when he was dismissed by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda for going in with his foot raised on Alexis Sanchez and within four minutes Suazo had the visitors level when he scored with a superb left footed volley to take his total to eight goals in the qualifiers.
However, with a place and a famous victory over the Brazilians beckoning the Chileans retreated into their shells and a triple substitution by Brazilian coach Dunga appeared to galvanise the Brazilians.
Thus it was they that appeared to have the one man advantage and settled the match with two goals within two minutes as Nilmar was on hand with a great header to convert Maicon's cross and then knocked home the rebound for his hat-trick, and his fifth international goal, after Maicon's shot had been brilliantly blocked by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Chile's hopes evaporated completely when Sanchez was himself sent off in the 77th minute.