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International football

Brazil thump Spain to win third straight Confed Cup

Brazil have defeated Spain to win their third consecutive Confederations Cup. Fred scored two and Neymar added another as the hosts dominated from minute one at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

The result was never in doubt Sunday evening at the Maracana. Brazil’s impressive talent put on quite a show against a visibly tired Spain, who had clearly not fully recovered from playing 120 minutes of football in humid conditions during the semifinal on Thursday.

The hosts took the lead just two minutes into the match after Fred pounced on a failed clearance. Hulk sent a cross into the box from the left wing, two Spain defenders failed to clear ball, and Fred got a foot on it before goalkeeper Iker Casillas could grab it.

The goal ignited the crowd inside the Maracana, and the hosts fed off the energy. Brazil put enormous pressure on Spain for the entire first half. Andres Iniesta and Xavi were hardly given any time on the ball, making an already rusty-looking Spain appear even more unpolished.

Around the 40-minute mark it looked like Pedro would score the equalizer for the Spanish team. Receiving the ball on the right wing, he beat goalkeeper Julio Cesar with a low, placed shot. But a sprinting David Luiz beat the ball to the goal line and, amazingly, he blocked the shot.

Instead it was Brazil who would get the next goal. Just a minute before halftime Oscar played a ball to Neymar on the left side of the box. The young superstar took one touch and ripped a powerful shot into the top corner of the net, leaving Casillas no chance.

The goal capped what was a fantastic half for the hosts, who went into the locker room with a well-deserved 2-0 lead.

Spain capitulate

Just two minutes after the restart, things got worse for Spain. Picking up the ball near half field, Hulk played a wonderful through pass to Fred on the left wing, and he sent a low finish past Casillas to seal his brace.

In the 55th minute, it looked like Spain were given a lifeline when substitute Jesus Navas went down in the box. The referee called a penalty, and it was Sergio Ramos who stepped up to take it. But the defender put his effort wide, making it clear that Sunday was not Spain’s night.

In minute 68, things got worse for the Spanish. Gerard Pique committed a reckless tackle on Neymar during a counter attack, and the ref had no choice but to award a red card. Down to 10 men, Spain’s faint hopes were all but dashed. The match ended 3-0 with Brazil as the champions.

The victory is Brazil’s third straight in the Confederations Cup after wins over Argentina and the United States in the 2005 and 2009 editions of the tournament.

Sunday’s performance marks what has been an impressive tournament for the Brazilians. Because they are already qualified as hosts for the 2014 World Cup, Brazil have had no competitive matches to speak of in recent years.  But the hosts showed at this summer’s tournament that they have the talent to beat the world’s best. With their home crowd behind them, they’re already favorites to win next summer’s big show.