Any doubts that Brazil are serious contenders for next year's World Cup were swept away by a majestic 3-0 victory over world champions Spain as they won the Confederations Cup in front of an ecstatic crowd at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday.
Inspired by Neymar and Fred in attack, David
Luiz at the back and the indefatigable Paulinho thundering around the midfield, Brazil ended Spain's record run of 29 unbeaten competitive matches and brought back memories of their glory days with their fifth straight win of the tournament.
They began with a scrappy goal from Fred after some shocking Spanish defending in the second minute, went 2-0 ahead when Neymar lashed an unstoppable angled left-foot shot past Iker Casillas a minute before halftime, and wrapped up the match and the title when Fred plundered a third with another angled shot two minutes after the re-start.
A crucial stop from Luiz after 41 minutes was vital to the victory, however.
With Brazil 1-0 ahead and Spain beginning to finally make an impact, the world champions looked set to equalise with a Pedro shot that had beaten goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
But with the ball about to cross the line, Luiz sprinted from nowhere, stuck out a leg, and diverted it away for a memorable clearance.
Three minutes later Neymar scored at the other end.
Spain, who have dominated the world scene for the past five years with two European titles and the World Cup, were swept aside. They suffered their biggest competitive defeat since losing 3-0 to Wales in a European qualifier 37 years ago.
Sergio Ramos fired wide with a poor penalty after 54 minutes.
Worse was to follow when Gerard Pique was sent off for a lunge on his new Barcelona team mate Neymar who again stole the show and was named Player of the Tournament.
After Fred scored his second of the night and his fifth of the competition, sheer joy descended on the Maracana as Brazil chalked up a third successive win in the competition that FIFA use as a test event for the following year's World Cup.
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