Brazil players celebrate the victory, which ended Spain’s run of 29 unbeaten competitive matches (Getty)

(WFI) Brazil won the Confederations Cup with an emphatic victory over world and European champions Spain thanks to two goals from Fred and a scorcher from Neymar.

It was their third consecutive FIFA Confederations Cup trophy.

The famed Maracana, first built for the 1950 World Cup and now renovated at a cost of around $600m for FIFA’s flagship event next year, was buzzing with excitement well before the match. A sea of yellow shirts and cheering fans gave the game a carnival atmosphere – and an intimidating cauldron of noise for Vicente Del Bosque’s team.

Fred’s opening goal within two minutes sent the crowd wild. A cross from Hulk into Spain’s six-yard box was stubbed home by the striker, who had fallen to the ground trying to control the ball.

Spurred on by the boisterous crowd, Brazil’s energy and endeavour kept them on top. Neymar’s sensational goal, a booming left-foot drive into the top corner from 18 yards following a Oscar pass down the left, gave the hosts the confidence they needed against the tournament favourites.

Fred added his second shortly after the interval with a coolly struck curled shot past Casillas into the bottom right-hand corner after some clever approach work by his team-mates.

Spain’s luck was out. Sergio Ramos missed a penalty in the second half before Gerard Pique was sent off midway through for scything down Neymar just outside the box.

Brazil will be a formidable threat at the World Cup if they can maintain their current rich vein of form.

FIFA has hailed the tournament as a big success. But the protests outside the Maracana reminded world football’s governing body that security will be the top priority for organisers in the build-up and during the World Cup.

Brazilian media reported violent demonstrations against World Cup costs and FIFA, with tear gas fired at protesters in clashes with police.

Attendance

74,000 packed into the Maracana to see the game

Star Players

Neymar’s abundance of skill and confidence in front of goal made him man of the match and the player to watch at the World Cup.

The new star of Brazil was chosen as the tournament’s best player. He won the adidas Golden Ball, which is awarded on the basis of a vote taken among the media accredited for the competition. Andres Iniesta of Spain and Paulinho from Brazil came second and third.

The adidas Golden Boot was won by Spain striker Fernando Torres for five goals and an assist in four matches, narrowly edging out Fred, who also scored five goals and one assist, but played one game more. Neymar, with four goals, won the Bronze Boot.

Italy Secure Third Place

Three saves in the penalty shootout by Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon gave Italy the victory over Uruguay following a 2-2 draw through 120 minutes.

Italy opened the scoring in the 24th

Neymar holds the Confederations Cup trophy. He was voted the tournament’s best player (Getty)

minute through a free-kick by Alessandro Diamanti. The ball slammed off the far post and was heading goal bound. Davide Astori appeared to decisively finish off the play as the ball trickled across the goal line.

The tournament’s first use of goal-line technology showed that he was the correct name to be added to the score sheet.

The second half was highlighted by three very well-taken goals. In the 58th minute, Edinson Cavani slotted a right-footed finish past Buffon to level the match, following a great through ball from Walter Gargano.

Italy regained the lead in the 73rd minute, as Alessandro Diamanti struck again. His brilliant, curling free kick would not be denied as it flew past the outstretched arms of Uruguay’s Fernando Muslera. As they have done all tournament, Uruguay battled back. In the 78th minute, Cavani scored his second from a devastating freekick that was curled with sheer power. His second goal of the game was his third in the past two matches.

After 30 minutes of scoreless extra-time play, the match went to penalties, which was Italy’s second consecutive match determined from spot kicks.

Diego Forlan stepped up first for the Uruguayans, but was denied wonderfully by Buffon. This was the second penalty miss for Forlan in the tournament. Italy converted its next two, but left back Mattia De Sciglio missed his attempt, leaving the door open for La Celeste. However, their next two penalties were saved by Buffon and Emanuele Giaccherini converted for the Italians as the claimed a 3-2 victory in the shootout and 3rd place in the tournament.

Star Players

Buffon’s efforts in goal sealed the award. A second half double save off of shots by Forlan kept the Italians ahead. His composure in goal was clearly shown when his team went down to 10 men, following Riccardo Montolivo’s red card. His leadership was crucial in the extra time periods. The culmination of his evening was highlighted by the three saves he made to ensure Italy’s 3rd place finish.

Cavani again put in a star performance for Uruguay. His pace and skill once again proved to be a menace for any defenders who he was faced with. His two excellently taken goals gave his team an opportunity to snatch away a victory. With much speculation of where he will be playing his club football this year, his performances during this tournament will surely skyrocket his stock.

Attendance

43,382 fans packed Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador to watch a fine display of football by both teams.

Top Stats

Davide Astori’s 24th minute goal was his first international goal.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson and Jeff Scannella

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