The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brazil cruise to title
- Defending champions demolish arch-rivals Argentina 3-0

Brazil stunned Argentina, their arch-rivals and the overwhelming favourites, with a comprehensive victory to claim their eighth Copa America title on Sunday night.

It was the second successive title for the Brazilians and was sweet justification for their coach, Dunga. He was without two of his chief threats in Ronaldinho and Kaka, and had been the target of vitriolic criticism for overseeing a side who were workmanlike, rather than brilliant, as Brazilian tradition demands.

Argentina, who were seeking a record 15th title, were outplayed in every department as the sparkling form they showed in the run-up to the final deserted them. Their coach, Alfio Basile, was unable to end a 14-year title drought, having overseen the teamís last win in 1993.

Brazil stung Argentina with a fourth-minute goal from Julio Baptista, his third goal in three games at the tournament, after just four minutes.

The striker, not wanted by Arsenal, picked up a long ball from Elano, who had replaced the suspended captain, Gilberto Silva, and controlled it neatly. He turned to the right of Argentinaís captain, Roberto Ayala, and fired a fierce right-foot drive into the top corner of Roberto Abbondanzieriís goal.

Five minutes later Argentina were unfortunate not to be back on level terms.

A cushioned header from Juan Sebastian Veron found Juan Roman Riquelme in space, but the playmaker's left-foot shot came off the post with goalkeeper Doni well beaten.

At the other end, Abbondanzieri saved from Maicon to keep Argentinaís hopes alive while his opposite number, Doni, was also alert when he thwarted another effort from Riquelme 10 minutes from half-time.

Luck was certainly on Brazilís side, though, and they went 2-0 ahead in the 40th minute when a right-wing cross from substitute Daniel Alves was turned into his own goal by Ayala, whose 115th international appearance was slowly turning into a nightmare.

Argentina continued to struggle to make any impact at the start of the second half, as key figures such as Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi were marked out of the game by a well-organised Brazilian side, for whom central defenders Juan and Alex were particularly solid. Brazil continued to frustrate Argentina as Doni and Gilberto were both booked for time-wasting.

And as Argentina laboured to impose their style, Brazil produced the killer punch with a memorable third goal after 69 minutes.

Vagner Love broke free down the left-hand side and slotted an inch-perfect pass between two defenders where Alves, who plays his club football in Spain with Sevilla, was waiting.

The substitute made no mistake with a low drive into the corner past Abbondanzieri to score his first international goal.


Brazil: Doni; Maicon, Alex, Juan, Gilberto: Elano (Alves 34), Mineiro, Josue, Baptista; Love (Fernando 90), Robinho (Diego 91).

Argentina: Abbondanzieri; Zanetti, Ayala, Milito, Heinze; Mascherano, Veron (Gonzalez 67), Cambiasso (Aimar 59), Riquelme; Messi, Tevez.

Referee: C. Amarilla (Paraguay).

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