The FIFA Confederations Cup started well for this year’s hosts Brazil as they managed a significant win over Asian champions, Japan. After a beautiful and colorful opening ceremony, Brazil opened this year’s competition in the best way possible, with great goals from Neymar, Paulinho, and Jo.
The game kicked off with Brazil being the dominant side; their first goal coming as early as the third minute. Fluminense skipper, Fred, received a good cross from Marcelo and knocked down the ball well for Neymar on the edge of the box. Spanish champions FC Barcelona’s newest acquisition made absolutely no mistake putting this one into the net with a brilliant strike. An outstretched Eiji Kawashima had no chance as the ball went past him and into the top-left corner of the net.
Japan held firm after this early goal and tried to get an equalizer, but were denied each time they tried. Keisuke Honda had one on-target shot blocked, however unconvincingly, by Julio Cesar soon after. Stuttgart’s Shinji Okazaki put the ball out for Keisuke Honda, but the CSKA Moscow midfielder was once again unable to convert and score.
Hulk almost doubled the lead for his side in the minutes that followed, but just hit the side-netting to the relief of Kawashima & co. Fred had a good chance as well, but there were to be no more goals in the first half. Apart from the early mistakes made, Alberto Zaccheroni would be pleased with the way his team had handled the first half. Luis Felipe Scolari, having seen what Japan could do, also knew the game wasn’t over yet, as both sides headed into the break.
The second half started and it took Brazil only 175 seconds to score their second goal. Not long after Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca had blown the whistle to signal the start of the second half, Corinthian’s Paulinho received a Dani Alves cross into the penalty area and shot confidently to Kiwashima’s right to make it 2-0. The Standard Liege goalkeeper had stretched well to try and keep it out, but his touch wasn’t able to stop the power of the shot.
Japan, by conceding early once again, had repeated the same mistakes they had made in the first half and Zaccheroni wasn’t pleased. 3 minutes later, Nuremberg’s Hiroshi Kiyotake was replaced by Ryoichi Maeda to seemingly intensify Japan’s attack. Unfortunately for the Japanese side, however, Brazil were well-prepared at the back.
With 16 minutes still to play, Brazilian star Neymar came off for PSG winger, Lucas Moura, and Hulk for Lazio’s Hernanes Do Carvalho. Japan wanted to try and take advantage of this absence with some fresh legs and introduced BSC Hertha’s new man Hajime Hosogai for Yasuhito Endo a few minutes later. After Brazil continued in their dominance, Zaccheroni made his final substitution with Eintracht Frankfurt’s Takashi Inui coming on for a displeased Keisuke Honda ten minutes later; hoping to get a consolation goal.
Unfortunately for Zaccheroni’s side, however, it was Brazil who would score another goal and not them. Jo, who had come on for Fred in the 81st minute, picked up a great pass from Chelsea midfielder Oscar Dos Santos and ran past Kawashima’s defenders to finish the game in style for his side.
It was a well-deserved victory for Scolari’s men, who had dominated the game from the first minute and enjoyed a whole 61% possession. Zaccheroni’s men, who perhaps didn’t deserve to have lost by so many goals after some great attempts, will now have to try and do much better against Italy and Mexico if they are to proceed further in the competition.
Written by Ange Marline