Brazil have reached their third consecutive Confederations Cup final after defeating Uruguay. Neymar created both goals for the hosts in the narrow 2-1 victory over their South American rivals.
Outside the Mineirao stadium on Wednesday the protests in Brazil showed no signs of letting up. Inside the stadium, however, it was a classic football matchup: Brazil against Uruguay.
Kickoff was preceded by a moment to acknowledge Marc-Vivien Foe. The Cameroonian midfielder died ten years ago to the day on the pitch during a Confederations Cup match against Colombia.
Capitalizing on opportunities
The first half was marked by a surprisingly small number of good opportunities. Brazil dominated possession, but did not seem to do much with it in the opening 45 minutes, while Uruguay struggled to test Julio Cesar in goal with their frequent forays into the opposing half.
It looked like Uruguay might take an early lead when David Luiz brought Diego Lugano down in the box during a corner kick in the 14th minute. Diego Forlan stepped up to take the penalty kick, but his former Inter Milan teammate Cesar saved the low shot.
Instead it was Brazil who would head into halftime ahead. In the 41st minute, Paulinho used a long-range pass to pick out Neymar, who was cutting in from the left wing. The young star's difficult shot from a tight angle was saved by Fernando Muslera, but Fred was there to follow up the rebound with a tap in.
Uruguay fight back
Just three minutes after the restart, Edinson Cavani equalized for Uruguay. He pounced on a lazy pass from Thiago Silva inside the box and sent a low finished past Cesar. It was a shocking mistake from the Brazil captain and a great finish from Cavani.
Brazil brought on Bernard and Hernanes for Hulk and Oscar respectively to add energy to their attack, but the Uruguayans continued to deny the hosts. As the half wore on it looked like extra time was in the cards.
Neymar, however, had different plans. Brazil's man of the match the last three games sent a corner into the box in the 86th minute. Paulinho out-jumped Martin Caceres and headed the ball into the back of the net. The late goal was the decider and despite a last-minute onslaught from Uruguay, the match ended 2-1.
Three straight finals
The victory sends Brazil to their third consecutive Confederations Cup final. They have also won a record 11 Confederations Cup matches in a row, including victories over Argentina and the United States in the 2005 and 2009 finals.
Uruguay, meanwhile, continue their poor run of form against Brazil. They have not beaten the mighty Brazilians in seven matches running.
In the final, Brazil will play the winner of the Spain v Italy encounter. That rematch of the Euro 2012 final will kick off on Thursday. Uruguay will play the loser of that match for third place.
The final will take place Sunday at 2200 GMT.