Brazil coach Carlos Dunga said his team is improving after last night’s 3-0 victory over Chile, though it’s not quite ready to hoist a record-extending sixth World Cup.
Dunga’s team will now take on the Netherlands in a quarterfinal match in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Goals from Juan, Luis Fabiano, and Robinho pushed the team past Chile.
After Fabiano’s goal put his team up 2-0, a fan danced the side of the field with a five-foot (1.5-meter) inflatable replica of the cup at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium. The win pushed Brazil to 12-5 at U.K. bookmaker William Hill, the best odds the team has had so far. That means a successful $5 bet brings in $12 plus the original stake.
“Given the quality of our players, there’s always the expectation that Brazil will win,” Dunga, a World Cup winning captain in 1994, told a news conference after the game. “Being favorites doesn’t mean we’ll win, but we’re growing in confidence game by game. We hope we’ll reach the final.”
The Selecao are trying to become the only team to have won soccer’s biggest prize on every continent it’s been played.
Once Fabiano added to defender Juan’s 34th minute opener, Chile was left to struggle with history: Brazil had never given up a 2-0 lead in 33 previous World Cup matches. Robinho’s 59th minute strike ended the Chileans’ fight, and gave Brazil 29 goals in eight straight victories over its South American rival.
“Brazil are my favorites, they’re too good,” former South African national coach Jomo Sono, attending the game as FIFA’s technical expert, said as the yellow-shirted Brazilians shared high-fives on the field below him.
“They’re very strong at the back and extremely good in attack.”
Chile hadn’t won a World Cup knockout match since its victory over the Soviet Union on home soil 48 years ago.
Chile’s Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa promised to attack in prematch comments, and fielded his usual three forwards. His team looked dangerous early in the match, with Udinese forward Alexis Sanchez pressuring the defenders with darting runs.
Brazil took advantage of Chile’s loss of its two regular central defenders, Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel, to suspension. Juan was left uncovered as he headed in Maicon’s corner after 34 minutes.
Brazil improved after that and Fabiano doubled the lead four minutes later. The Sevilla striker got his third goal in the tournament after racing onto Kaka’s pass before rounding goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Bielsa made two substitutions at halftime, but didn’t improve his team’s fortunes. While its forwards couldn’t penetrate, Chile’s makeshift defense was struggling to contain the Brazilians, who swarmed towards Bravo’s goal.
With an hour played, Brazil’s Ramires moved through a series of opponents and laid the ball into Robinho’s path. The U.K.’s costliest player curled the ball around Bravo and into the goal.
“In these World Cup games you have to attack and play open football, and that’s what we did today,” Dunga said.
Humberto Suazo’s 77th minute shot, which bounced off the turf and onto the top of the bar, was as close as Chile came.
“I don’t think it was as much of a one-sided game as the result suggests,” Bielsa said. “We had chances, but we didn’t have the punch to convert possession into danger.”
Dunga was able to withdraw Fabiano, Robinho and Kaka before the end in the hope of keeping his key players fit for a repeat of the 1998 semifinal with the Dutch, who extended their unbeaten streak to 23 matches with a 2-1 victory over Slovakia yesterday.
Brazil “need to improve in all areas” before that meeting, Dunga said.