5 March 2014
A crowd of 51 083 turned out at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on Wednesday evening to witness upcoming World Cup hosts Brazil hand South Africa a 5-0 thrashing with a fluent and entertaining performance.
In a low-key beginning to the match, Brazil started confidently, passing the ball about, moving it from left to right and using the depth of the field too, but it was South Africa who managed the first shot on goal, with Dean Furman’s long range, left-footed shot being comfortably handled by Julio Cesar in the Brazilian goal.
Hulk came close to setting Fred up for a goal when he got onto the end of a free kick on the right and centred for the Fluminense striker, but Fred’s side-footed shot was skied high and wide of Ronwen Williams’ goal.
In the 10th minute, though, the World Cup hosts hit the front. Hulk, wide on the sideline, picked out Oscar with a well weighted ball for the midfielder to run onto. The South African defence was too narrow and Bafana goalkeeper Williams was left in an uncomfortable one-on-one situation. He came out to close the angle, but Oscar kept his cool and chipped the ball past the goalie’s right shoulder and into an open net.
South Africa, to their credit, immediately worked hard to put the South Americans under pressure, and while they managed to play some of their football in the Brazilian half, they couldn’t make an impression inside the visitors’ box.
Neymar almost rounded Williams in the 20th minute when he ran onto another well judged through ball, but the goalie did well to force the Barcelona star wide and then knock the ball behind for a corner.
Judging from the number of players that lost their footing, the surface appeared somewhat slippery, but the football was refreshingly open. Brazil, especially, were doing well to stretch South Africa, not so much out wide, but with the depth of their play and their searching long balls down the flanks.
Bafana, though, were able to string some pretty passing movements together, without really testing the five-time world champions.
In the 29th minute Neymar came oh so close to scoring Brazil’s second when he ran onto a loose South African pass and bore down on the Bafana Bafana goal with the home team’s defenders trailing in his wake. He tried to chip Williams, but the goalie, who was making his debut, managed to get a hand on the ball and deflect it behind for a corner.
Nthethe saved a very dangerous situation when Hulk again found space on the right, with four players in the middle in support, and tried to send in a low cross. The South African captain managed to cut out the ball at full stretch. Had he not done so, there were two Brazilians waiting to have a close range shot on goal.
Neymar threatened on the counter-attack, with Brazil in a two-on-two, but Siyanda Xulu didn’t fall for any of the winger’s trickery and managed to dispossess him deep in the South African box to the applause of the crowd.
Three minutes later, however, Neymar got his name onto the scoresheet when Paulinho found with him with a stabbed pass with the outside of his right foot from a goal kick. Neymar took it to his left and from the top of the box beat Williams to the goalkeeper’s left with a solidly struck left-footed shot to make it Brazil 2, South Africa nil.
With half-time nearing, Oscar found Marcelo with a through ball on the left, but the South African defence just managed to scramble his low cross for Fred out over the touchline as Brazil went in search of a third goal.
Just before the half-time whistle, Dean Furman robbed a Brazilian in the midfield and let rip with a left-footed thunderbolt that flew narrowly wide of Julio Cesar’s right- hand post, drawing oohs and aahs from the Bafana Bafana faithful. Shortly after that, the whistle sounded. The first half had belonged to Brazil.
The World Cup hosts took to the field in the second half wearing their change strip with black armbands bearing the famous 46664 number that was former South African President Nelson Mandela’s prison number to match the 46664 on the home team’s new all white kit.
Early second half strike
After only 24 seconds, Brazil had added a third goal to their tally. When South Africa were unable to control the ball in the midfield, Fred knocked a pass for Neymar to run onto. He was in acres of space, which forced Williams to come out of his goal to close down the Brazilian star. With so much space, though, Neymar simply lofted the ball high over the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Luiz Gustavo, on as a substitute, was narrowly wide of William’s left-hand post with a curling shot from the left shortly after that.
With the result already decided, Dino Ndlovu replaced Daylon Claasen in the home team’s line-up, followed not five minutes later by Bongani Zungu.
When South Africa managed a ball across the face of the Brazilian goal, David Luiz was on hand to cut it out and end the danger. Anele Ngconga then sent in a teasing cross to the far post, but Rafinha was on hand to head it behind for a corner.
Barcelona’s Dani Alves, the scorer of Brazil’s winner in their 1-0 Confederations Cup victory over South Africa in 2009, replaced Real Madrid’s Marcelo just 13 minutes into the second stanza.
Next up among the flood of substitutes was Jo replacing Fred for Brazil, while Ayanda Patosi took over from Bernard Parker for Bafana Bafana.
Almost immediately Serero played Patosi in with a superb pass with the outside of his boot, but Julio Cesar pulled off a fine save with his left hand to deny the Belgium- based striker a stunning introduction.
David Luiz next joined his team-mates on the sidelines, with Bayern Munich’s Dante replacing the Chelsea star in a team mostly loaded with one name, recognisable stars.
Neymar then found space on the right and drifted easily past a defender before just missing Jo with a ball to the head of the striker at the far post.
Bafana Bafana were caught square in the 74th minute once more, but Williams did extremely well to cut down the angle and save Dani Alves’ shot with his feet. Shortly after that, Alves just missed finding Neymar with a chipped pass as his Barcelona team-mate went in search of a hat-trick.
It became 4-0 in the 74th minute when Fernandinho beat Williams with a rocket from 27 metres out that found the top right hand corner of the Bafana Bafana net- minder’s goal, leaving the stunned debutant rooted to the spot. It was Fernandinho’s first goal for his country.
Finally, Neymar completed the scoring and netted his hat-trick in the 90th minute when Alves found Jo with a ball from the left to the striker on the far post in the box. Jo, in turn, picked out Neymar with a well directed header, leaving the winger with a simple tap-in for his third.
Three minutes later it was all over. Brazil 5, South Africa 0.