- Dark horses USA take Brazil by surprise
- Lucio provides the highlight of a spectacular final
- "Something exploded within me - joy, euphoria!"
Both Brazil and their eventual final opponents USA began their FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 campaigns in Group B, where A Seleção secured a 3-0 victory when the two sides met. The South Americans ultimately became group winners after beating Italy 3-0 and Egypt 4-3, while USA followed them into the knockout stages after a 3-1 defeat by Italy and a 3-0 win over Egypt ensured they ended the group stage with the best goal difference of the three remaining teams.
The Stars and Stripes went on to shock tournament favourites Spain with a 2-0 victory in the semi-finals, as Brazil snatched a 1-0 win over hosts South Africa, courtesy of a free-kick from Dani Alves in the dying minutes.
USA looked on course to sweep aside another major footballing power in the final after Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan handed them a 2-0 half-time lead. Nevertheless, a brace from Luis Fabiano in the 46th and 74th minutes pulled Brazil level in one of the most spectacular encounters in the history of the Confederations Cup.
The decisive goal
Having already demonstrated their ability to snatch crucial late goals against South Africa in the last four and during the group match against Egypt, where Kaka converted a penalty awarded for handball in the 90th minute, Brazil continued this trend in the tournament decider at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium. Elano looped a corner towards the far post, where A Seleção captain Lucio was waiting to head the ball powerfully into the back of the net. The strike sealed Brazil’s third Confederations Cup title and made them the most successful team in the history of the competition, a record they later consolidated with a fourth victory in 2013.
Lucio can reflect on a remarkably successful career for both club and country. The physically imposing centre-half first captured the world’s attention at Internacional in Brazil and then in the German Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen with his powerful and practically unstoppable advances into opposition territory, and had three domestic doubles to his name by the time he arrived at Bayern Munich in 2004.
Despite his success, the highlight of Lucio’s club career came when he won the Italian championship, UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup with Internazionale in 2010, leading to a deserved inclusion in that year’s FIFA/FIFPro World11.
At this point, the man who was a cornerstone of A Seleção for more than a decade had already added the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ and two FIFA Confederations Cups, in 2005 and 2009, to his extensive collection of silverware. His attacking intent and long marauding runs through midfield with the ball at his feet earned him the nickname O Cavalo (‘The Horse’).
What they said
"That goal was very important to me. It was a tough tournament, but the team fought until the very end. I thank God and the team. Something exploded within me - joy, euphoria! I sprinted to the corner flag to embrace Elano and my other team-mates. For me, it was a magical moment with the national team and a special one for all of us. It was unforgettable." Brazil’s matchwinning goalscorer Lucio
"At that moment, it was tough to take it all in. I can imagine that every football fan enjoyed this final, as it turned into such a spectacle. In many ways it was magical." USA goalkeeper Tim Howard
"It was extremely tough, like every final, but even when we were 2-0 down, we still believed we would win. We were absolutely determined. It takes experienced guys to turn around a match after a deficit like that. I’m very proud of my players." Brazil coach Carlos Dunga
"Conceding the first goal right after the break broke us and knocked the wind out of our sails. You have to pay huge respects to the Brazilians for the way they played. They kept pushing forward over and over again and put us under more and more pressure. They threw plenty of players forward and then took their chances." USA striker Landon Donovan
"Nobody let their heads drop after going 2-0 down because we knew what we had to do to regain control of the game and start clawing our way back. We did that extremely well, and fortunately, we emerged victorious." Brazil striker Kaka