Brazil humbled world and European champions Spain with a scintillating 3-0 victory in Rio to win their third consecutive Confederations Cup.
Inspired by the electrifying atmosphere inside the famous Maracana stadium, Brazil overwhelmed Spain from the first whistle bringing an end to their three-year record run of 29 unbeaten competitive matches.
Much of the pre-match buildup had focused on what Brazil might learn from the reigning World Cup champions, but by the end of the 90-minutes it was Spain who received a soccer lesson from their South American opponents.
There were vast contrasts in the pre-match atmospheres before the game with large crowds protesting in the streets of Rio over the excessive costs of staging the World Cup, while outside the stadium tens of thousands of fans danced and sang.
By the time it came to kick-off the noise inside the Maracana was deafening and the passion created by the partisan crowd appeared to inspire Brazil immediately with the hosts snatching the lead with virtually the first attack of the game.
Spain looked uncomfortable at defending crosses in their semi-final win against Italy and once again showed their vulnerability with the game’s opening goal.
Brazil forward Hulk picked up the ball on the right flank and sent in a speculative lobbed cross to the back post, which should have been simple for the Spanish backline to deal with. However, Pique, Arebelo and Spain goalkeeper Casillas all appeared to leave the ball for one another before the ball found its way to Brazil forward Fred, who managed to stab the ball home from two yards out despite losing his footing.
The early goal rattled the normally composed Spain and inspire Brazil, who pressed and attacked their opponents with pace and flair.
Spain did manage to work themselves back into the game and created a few chances with Andres Iniesta forcing a neat save from Brazil keeper Julio Cesar. Indeed, the Barcelona player seemed to be central to all of the world champions’ good play and started a move that saw Pedro end up with a one-on-one with keeper Julio Cesar.
The midfielder calmly directed a shot past the onrushing Cesar that was bound for goal before Brazil’s defender David Luiz spectacularly hooked the ball over from less than a yard out.
The goal would have given the Spain a tremendous boost going in at half-time, but instead of the finding themselves level, Spain soon fell further behind, as Neymar doubled Brazil’s lead a minute before the break.
The 21-year-old exchanged passes with Oscar on the left-hand edge of the box before smashing a fierce left-foot shot past Casillas into the roof of the net at the front post.
The world and European Champions looked happy to escape from the field and return to the sanctuary of their dressing room at half-time, but if they thought Brazil would let up in the second-half they were sorely mistaken, as the five-time World Cup winners extended their lead two-minutes after the restart.
Some tidy interplay in the Brazil midfield ended with the ball being played out wide to Fred on the top left-hand edge of the box, who delightfully side footed a first-time shot past Casillas to put the game beyond Spain with 43-minutes left to play.
Spain almost had a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on substitute Jesus Navas, but defender Sergio Ramos pulled his shot wide on a night where nothing seemed to go right for them.
The reigning world and European champion’s misery was compounded when Gerard Pique was sent off for a rash lunge on Neymar on 68 minutes, but by then the game was already long over.
At the final whistle the Brazil team celebrated to cheers of “the champions are back” from the home crowd, while the Spanish players looked on tasting the bitter flavor of defeat for the first time since 2010.