CLASSIC UFWC TITLE MATCH:
Chile 0-3 Brazil
20 April 1952
Pan American Championships, Estadio Nacional, Santiago
Scorers: Ademir (2), Pinga
Neither Brazil nor Chile won the 1950 World Cup – that honour went to Uruguay – but Brazil finished second in the tournament, and Chile emerged as UFWC champions, taking the title from the USA but failing to qualify for the next stage of the tournament.
Both Brazil and Chile then went straight into the inaugural Pan American Championships, a round-robin competition involving six sides from three American continents.
Hosts Chile were clear favourites, and set about their opposition in devastating style, whacking Panama 6-1 and Mexico 4-0, then seeing off Peru 3-2 and official champions Uruguay 2-0.
At the time, Chile boasted a formidable side containing some of the greatest players in the country’s history, including goalkeeper Sergio Livingstone (known as ‘El Sapo’ or ‘The Frog’ for his leaping ability), and free-scoring forwards Enrique Hormazabal, Atilio Cre-maschi and Rene Melendez.
Brazil, meanwhile, saw their reputation suffer after losing out in the World Cup. They changed their coach and training techniques, and drafted in new players to bolster their squad, but the Brazilian press and public were hardly backing their team.
A stuttering start to the tournament drained confidence and hopes, but a spirited and combative win over the mighty Uruguay in the penultimate round of matches soon changed that. Suddenly, Brazil were one point behind leaders Chile going into a final decisive match between the two sides.
Victory for Brazil would see them win the tournament – and the UFWC. A loss or draw would hand the glory to Chile.
Brazil were UFWC virgins, having never contested the title. They were captained by the brilliant two-footed Vasco da Gama forward Ademir Marques de Menezes, known simply as Ademir (or ‘Queixada’, which means ‘Jaw’, due to his prominent jawline). Ademir had won the golden Shoe at the 1950 World Cup, netting nine goals. And, with Ademir leading the line, the Brazilians did not disappoint.
The match was described as a fantastic spectacle, with Brazil showing great technique and skill, and peppering the Chilean goal with shots. English referee Charles Dean had little cause to blow his whistle as the match was contested in a ‘keen but fair’ manner.
Despite the best efforts of Chilean keeper Livingstone, Brazil took a 2-0 lead into half-time courtesy of the deadly Ademir. (Chile’s star man, George Robledo, was missing from their line-up, busy playing as a trail-blazing foreign import in England for Newcastle United.)
The second half was all about Brazil keeping possession, but was notable for both sides making three substitutions – the Pan American Championships being one of the first competitions in the world to allow such changes. One of the Brazilian subs, Pinga of Portuguesa, popped up with a goal, and the match ended 3-0.
Brazil won their first ever-international tournament in the Pan American Championships, and took the UFWC title at the first time of asking. A promising start for the international side that would go on to be one of the most successful in football history.