Brazil came from behind to beat the USA 3 – 2 on Sunday in the final of the Confederations Cup in South Africa.
The five-times world champions trailed 2-0 at halftime to the hard-running Americans after goals by Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
Luis Fabiano pulled one back at the start of the second half and levelled after 74 minutes before captain Lucio headed the winner six minutes from time.
“When we went in at halftime we only heard about was how we were going to come back and we got that at first goal at an important time,” he told reporters.
“It was great that we managed it. It was very hard and we had to fight for it.
“Our first goal was crucial to keep our belief. We scored early enough so that we knew we had plenty of time maybe to go to extra time. Then we got the second one. After that kept the ball, we moved them from side to side, we kept our patience and we got the third.”
This semifinal against the hosts was heading for extra time until Alves, in an inspired move by coach Dunga, replaced Andre Santos and broke the stalemate with a curling free kick in the 88th minute.
Brazil face the United States in Sunday’s final with South Africa heading to Rustenburg for the third-place playoff with Spain.
South Africa were without suspended midfielder Macbeth Sibaya, his place taken by Siphiwe Tshabalala, while Brazil midfielder Luisao started for injured Juan.
The two adversaries made it into the last four in wildly contrasting ways – Brazil sauntering through as Group B leaders with maximum points, South Africa edging through on goal difference as Group A runners-up.
With President Jacob Zuma watching, about the only one of the 48 000 fans not blowing into a vuvuzela, South Africa made a promising start as they fought to make their first final since the 1996 African Nations Cup.
The USA have stunned the World’s number one team Spain 2 – 0 to reach the finals of the Confederations Cup in South Africa.
A first half strike from Villarreal’s Jozy Altidore and another 16 minutes from time by Fulham’s Clint Dempsey did the damage on Wednesday in what will go down as one of the biggest victories in US football history.
They also had a flawless performance by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and a commendable defensive display to thank for earning them a shot at the trophy on Sunday against either Brazil or hosts South Africa.
“When you play Spain you certainly have to work very hard as a group to defend. We made a special point to close down Xavi as best we could to prevent his penetrative passes,” said Bradley.
“We felt strongly that when we got the ball we needed to be aggressive and have the confidence that we could keep the ball and move it.
Brazil qualified for the Confederations Cup semi-final by beating a 10-man USA team 3 – 0 on Thursday.
Felipe Melo, Robinho and Maicon secured the three points that lift Dunga’s men to the top of Group B with Italy, in action against Egypt in Thursday’s other game, to come on Sunday.
“We played well but we want to play even better in the games ahead,” warned Manchester City striker Robinho.
“Against Egypt we didn’t play well in the second half but today we showed our real game,” added Kaka, while Dunga’s thoughts had already turned to Saturday’s final group game.
“When Brazil face Italy you never know what’s going to happen,” ventured the Brazil coach.
Egypt stunned the soccer world by beating the World Champions Italy 1 – 0 in their Confederations Cup encounter on Thursday.
Mohamed Homos was their hero with his 40th minute header enough to hand them a famous victory in front of 51,000 fans, but they also had goalkeeper Essam al-Hadary to thank for pulling off a string of fine saves.
Egypt and Italy are now level on three points in Group B with the Pharoahs favourites to go through to the semi-finals.
They face the United States on Sunday while Italy must play Brazil, who have two wins out of two so far.
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata said before the game that African pride was at stake and his team was bubbling with confidence after pushing Brazil hard in their gallant 4-3 defeat on Monday.
The African Nations Cup champions’ made one change from that match and it was an inspired move, with Homos replacing 35-year-old captain Ahmed Hassan, the country’s most capped player.
A double from Bernard Parker saw Bafana Bafana beat New Zealand 2 – 0 at the Royal Bafokeng stadium on Wednesday night.
After their limp opening draw, Joel Santana’s ‘Bafana Bafana’ finally tapped into a rich seam of form with goals either side of half time from Bernard Parker.
This was sweet redemption for the Serbia-based striker for it was he who had inadvertently blocked Kagisho Dikgacoi’s goal-bound header against Iraq on Sunday.
The man of the match said: “I’d like to thank my coach who showed a lot of faith in me by starting me for this game. I liked the way we played, full of confidence.”
Santana added: “We had to win this game but we played well in defence, midfield moved well and they were fast in attack.”
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert was unhappy with his side’s showing.
“Some key players struggled to get going tonight. We’re still chasing that elusive point and that’ll be our priority on Saturday.”
The Rustenburg result in front of a near-capacity 40 000 crowd boosted the 2010 World Cup hosts’ prospects of qualifying for the semifinals as Group A runners-up behind Spain, who ensured their place in the last four earlier on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Iraq.
While the permutations are plenty, South Africa, with four points, will guarantee qualification if they get a draw on Saturday with Spain – by no means inconceivable if they repeat this level of performance – irrespective of how Iraq fare against New Zealand.
If they lose and the Iraqis beat New Zealand then it will come down to goal difference.
After their nervy curtain-raiser this was a far livelier South Africa and part of the reason for that was the return from injury of Everton playmaker Steven Pienaar.
Bafana Bafana could only manage a disappointing goalless draw against Iraq at Ellis Park on Sunday.
Bafana squandered three gilt-edged chances in the space of five minutes late in the game, the worst in the 84th minute when midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi headed across goal after Iraqi keeper Mohamed Kassid had missed a cross.
The South African team showed some neat touches in midfield in which MacBeth Sibaya was outstanding but they over-elaborated while strikers Parker and Fanteni failed to hold the ball up with any regularity.
The match was watched by South African president Jacob Zuma, who welcomed the world to Africa at the end of a colourful pre-match opening ceremony.
Midfielder Macbeth Sibaya, who came close with a long range shot in the first half, said that confidence in the team remained high.
“We believe in ourselves.” said Sibaya, who plays for Russian champions Rubin Kazan and will be playing in the UEFA Champions League next season, said the players would lift each other ahead of the next game.
“We have to be united and pick each other up. The atmosphere in the dressing room was not bad, even though we failed to score a goal against the Iraqis,” he said. “We remain confident because we did not give them a chance. I am disappointed with the goalless draw, even a 1-1 would have been better.”
South Africa’s next match is against New Zealand on Wednesday in Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng stadium. The All Whites lost their opening game against Spain 5-0 in Sunday’s late game.