Brazil edges Chile in Toronto soccer friendly
Teams prepare for World Cup
Hulk and Robinho scored to lift Brazil to a 2-1 victory over Chile in a soccer friendly Tuesday, a game that was both part of World Cup preparations and a spirited clash between two South American sides.
Hulk scored in the 14th minute, the goal coming after Oscar intercepted a pass out of Chile's backfield. Oscar sent a long cross to Hulk, who launched a left-footed shot past 'keeper Claudio Bravo.
Robinho gave the Brazilians the lead in the 80th minute when he headed in a perfectly-placed goalmouth cross from Maicon.
Eduardo Vargas scored Chile's lone goal in the 71st minute, taking a short pass from Jean Beausejour and launching a long shot that tucked just inside the left corner, catching Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar flatfooted.
The match featured some of the game's biggest stars — 21-year-old striker Neymar for Brazil, and Chile's Alexis Sanchez being just two. It also marked Brazil's final match of 2013 and part of the team's preparations for the 2014 World Cup in its home country — which coach Luis Felipe Scolari promised last week that Brazil, already five-time World Cup champions, will win.
The No. 11-ranked Brazilians — one spot ahead of Chile in the most recent FIFA world rankings — scored on the only shot on net in the first half. But both teams came alive in a fast-paced final 45 minutes, keeping the noisy Rogers Centre crowd on its feet.
In the 56th minute, a shot from Robinho — just a couple of minutes after he entered the game — appeared destined for the net before Bravo dove to clear it.
Less than a minute later, Hulk banged a 20-yard shot off the crossbar.
The Brazilian contingent in the crowd roared whenever Neymar, a striker for Barcelona, had the ball, including a spectacular 60-yard run in the first half that saw him finally lose possession on Chile's end line. Neymar looked poised to score in the 83rd minute, when he was one-on-one with Chile's 'keeper only to trip over the ball in the 18-yard box.
A chanting, singing crowd of more than 30,000 packed the Rogers Centre, dressed in either the canary yellow jerseys of Brazil or the red and white of La Roja (The Red One).
If there was any negative on the night, it was the temporary grass field. Two days after the stadium hosted the CFL East Division final on turf, real grass had been rolled out for the friendly, and while it looked decent at first glance, it clearly wasn't. Early in the game, Brazilian defender David Luiz picked up and replaced a huge chunk of dislodged turf, and then stamped it down with his foot.
A few minutes later, two Brazilians could be seen replacing a chunk of turf the size of a large pizza box. By halftime, an official ran onto the field during every stoppage to tamp down loose pieces.
The game was part of the Gillette International Soccer Series, and Toronto was a logical venue based on the city's large Brazilian and Chilean communities. Dozens of flags of both countries hung from the railings around the stadium.
It marked Brazil's first game in Canada in almost 20 years and the first ever in Toronto. The Brazilians last played in Canada in June 1994 in Edmonton, settling for a 1-1 tie versus the Canadians in front of 51,936 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.
Brazil came into the game on a roll, unbeaten in five games, and the Confederations Cup champions after a 3-0 victory in the final over World Cup champs Spain. And on Saturday in Miami, Brazil routed Honduras 5-0.
Chile, meanwhile, has also had some strong results, including a 2-0 win over England in a friendly Friday at Wembley Stadium that ended England's 10-game unbeaten streak.