JOHANNESBURG - Holders Brazil fought back from 2-0 down with three second-half goals to beat the United States 3-2 and win the Confederations Cup for the third time in a superb final on Sunday. The U.S., who shocked Spain in the semis, looked set to complete an even greater upset when goals by Clint Dempsey and skipper Landon Donovan put them 2-0 ahead at half-time. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard produced several good saves before striker Luis Fabiano took his tournament tally to five when he scored immediately after the restart and headed the equaliser in the 74th minute. Brazil captain Lucio completed his side's stunning recovery when he rose superbly to power home an Elano corner six minutes from time. The match was a fitting climax to an outstanding tournament which provided shocks, excellent football and passionate crowds, auguring well for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa. Brazil coach Dunga told a news conference he was delighted by his team's performance. "Even after we went 2-0 down the team was still sure of itself. We told them at halftime to play down the wings, keep patient. We did that, we have been together for 29 days and we were determined to win it. "It is very difficult to overcome a 2-0 deficit, it is not easy, but if you have committed players who never give up then you have a chance and we came back in the second half. We showed a high level of professionalism." Brazil had beaten the U.S. 3-0 in the group stage but faced a far tougher challenge in the final. "The feeling is a mix of great disappointment but also great pride," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "There is no getting around it is a difficult loss having had a two-goal lead. The moment that really hurt was conceding the goal so early in the second half -- that brought them right back into the game. " STUNNED BRAZIL The U.S. stunned Brazil by taking the lead with a fortuitous goal by Dempsey who connected with Jonathan Spector's cross and sent the ball speeding past Julio Cesar despite failing to make a clean connection. Astonishingly, the Americans doubled their lead after 27 minutes. Donovan started the move deep in his own half when he found Ricardo Clark, who broke down the left before sending a perfect cross back to Donovan. His first touch wrong-footed Ramires, creating an opening for the striker who switched the ball to his left foot and cracked it past Julio Cesar for his 40th international goal in his 114th match. PREVIOUS MEETINGS Brazil had beaten the U.S. 14 times in 15 previous meetings but keeper Howard kept the outsiders firmly in control with a number of fine saves. Brazil had the majority of the possession but rarely threatened until a minute after the restart when Luis Fabiano turned and shot through the legs of a defender in one movement. Brazil twice went close to an equaliser, Howard pulling off an excellent diving save from a Lucio header and getting lucky when Kaka's downward header looked to have crossed the line before the keeper held on to it. But he was not quite as fortunate the next time Brazil hit the bar. Kaka accelerated past Spector on the left before crossing to Robinho on the six-yard line. He first time shot came back off the bar to Luis Fabiano who headed in the rebound. Brazil were now in command and the decisive breakthrough came when Lucio rose to power the ball home with a his head.
28 June 2009
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