Brazil 1-0 Chile
29 March 2015
Emirates Stadium, London
A single goal from Roberto Firmino was enough to win this feisty match for Brazil in a rain-soaked London. A much-changed Brazil struggled for long periods against Chile, but eventually gained a narrow victory, retaining the UFWC title, and maintaining their 100-percent winning record since the World Cup.
For all Brazil’s disappointment last summer, the Seleção did beat Chile – on penalties – in the Round of 16. This friendly was played at Arsenal’s sold-out 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium, the home ground of Chile star Alexis Sanchez, and a regular European venue for Brazil.
Chile, who will host the Copa America in June, came into the match on the back of a shock 2-0 defeat to Iran. Sanchez and highly-rated Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal started that game on the bench, but both were restored to the starting line-up by manager Jorge Sampaoli. Sanchez was the key man for Chile, and he was at the heart of pretty much everything good his side did.
Brazil boss Dunga made several changes to the team that beat France 3-1 on Thursday. Philippe Coutinho, Fernandinho and Marcelo were among those recalled to face Chile, but all were fairly anonymous in a first half that saw Brazil rely almost entirely on the industry and skill of Neymar.
The opening exchanges saw Chile enjoy the bulk of the possession, with Brazil looking to counter attack through Neymar, who was clattered to the ground twice within the first ten minutes.
Midway through the first half, Chile’s Gary Medel was lucky to avoid a red card after stamping on Neymar, as the game was interrupted by a series of fouls. And Medel escaped punishment again a few minutes later when the ball struck his right arm and left hand in the penalty area. English referee Martin Atkinson did not award a penalty.
Neymar came close to scoring when his long free kick almost crept in at Claudio Bravo’s far post, only for the Barcelona keeper to tip the ball out for a corner. Douglas Costa also went close for Brazil, but overall Chile had the best of the first half, without really creating any clear-cut chances. Brazil’s frustration culminated in a booking for Neymar just before half-time.
Heavy rain seemed to dampen both sides’ exuberance during a relatively subdued opening to the second half. It took the appearance of the sun – and more importantly a host of Brazilian substitutes – to kick the game back into life.
And, in the 72nd minute, one of the Brazil substitutes that broke the deadlock. Roberto Firmino raced onto a Danilo though-ball, skipped past Bravo, and slid the ball into the net. It was Firmino’s second international goal. The Hoffenheim forward netted the winner against Austria in November.
Chile continued to scrap away, and they eventually registered a shot on target in the 85th minute from a Hernandez free-kick. And Neymar dragged a late free-kick just wide for Brazil.
The last few minutes saw an interruption by pitch invaders, but the game was hardly affected as it had already been regularly interrupted by foul play. It was by no means a classic, and a single moment of quality was enough to give Brazil a 1-0 win.
Brazil’s next match is a rare home friendly in Sao Paulo against Mexico on 7 June. They then play Honduras on 10 June, before their opening Copa America fixture against Peru on 14 June.