Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Brazil find form to claim Copa

DEPTHArgentina were the favorites, but Brazil proved themselves capable of winning without stars Ronaldinho and Kaka by thumping the Albicelesters


Brazil's Robinho, front, celebrates with teammates after beating Argentina 3-0 in the final of the Copa America in Maracaibo, Venezuela, on Sunday.


Brazil stunned bitter rivals and overwhelming favorites Argentina 3-0 to win their eighth Copa America title on Sunday.

It was the second successive title for the Brazilians and was sweet justification for coach Dunga, who was without superstars Ronaldinho and Kaka, and who had been the target of vitriolic criticism for overseeing a workmanlike rather than traditionally wondrous side.

Argentina, chasing a record 15th title, were outplayed in every department as the sparkling form they showed in the run-up to the final deserted them and deprived coach Alfio Basile of a second Copa having overseen the team's last win in 1993.

Julio Baptista scored his third goal in three games at the tournament when he gave Brazil the lead after just four minutes.

The striker, unwanted by Arsenal, picked up a long ball from Elano, who had replaced suspended skipper Gilberto Silva, and controlled it neatly.

He turned to the right of Argentina skipper Roberto Ayala and fired a fierce right-foot drive into the top corner of Roberto Abbondanzieri's 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 the deficit down while opposite number Doni was also alert to danger when he thwarted another Riquelme effort 10 minutes from halftime.

Luck was certainly on Brazil's side 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 the likes of Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi were marked out of the game by well-organized opponents with central defenders Juan and Alex particularly solid.

Brazil earned the reward for their superiority with a memorable third goal after 69 minutes.

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

The substitite made no mistake with a low drive into the corner.

Argentina's miserable night was summed up when Tevez had an 80th-minute effort ruled out for offside.

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