JOHANNESBURG - Half hour into the World Cup's second round, Brazil found its rhythm.
A hammer-strike header. A pinball-style counterattack. An explosive run followed by a clinical finish — Brazil's football orchestra was playing in true harmony Monday for the first time in the tournament.
Coach Dunga said there's still much to improve, but he must have been encouraged what in the 3-0 win over Chile at Ellis Park.
Chile is no pushover. It earned its place in the second round with victories over Switzerland and Honduras and a 2-1 loss to European champion Spain.
Against Brazil though, coach Marcelo Bielsa's team never had a chance.
"It was likely our best match so far," said Maicon, who struck the corner kick that set up Juan's powerful header for 1-0. "We did well against a team that had been playing well so far in the tournament. It was important to show that we can come up with a good performance when needed."
Until the Chile match, Brazil had been a letdown for its samba-dancing and demanding fans, who don't just want to see Brazil win — they want to see Brazil win in style.
The team struggled to beat North Korea 2-1, improved in a 3-1 win against Ivory Coast but was held to a disappointing scoreless draw against Portugal.
The Brazilians appeared to be heading for another lacklustre performance at Ellis Park, creating few moments of danger in the first half hour save for a long-distance shot by Gilberto Silva.
It all changed with Juan's opening goal. Bielsa made two substitutions at halftime and a third 17 minutes into the second half as Chile pushed for an unlikely comeback. But it struggled to find ways past Brazil's defence, while Dunga's team seemed to come close in every other attack.
"We created a lot of scoring opportunities and didn't give many chances to our opponent," said Luis Fabiano, who scored the second goal on a fast break. "It shows that we are improving match after match, and this is important in a competition like the World Cup. We want to keep playing better and we did that today."
Brazil and Chile split possession and the Brazilians just narrowly outshot their opponents, 17 to 15. Still, Chile lacked precision in decisive moments, unlike Robinho, who scored his first goal of the World Cup after a dazzling run by Ramires.
"It was made perfectly clear today that there are distances between the big teams and our team," Chile's coach admitted.
"Perhaps the result could have been narrower," Bielsa said. "But generally speaking, we can say that the superiority of Brazil was too much for us. We were unable to slow them down."
Dunga said Brazil's confidence is growing match by match. But he wouldn't be drawn into talking about prospects of Brazil lifting the World Cup trophy for a record sixth time.
"Given the quality of the Brazilian players there is always this expectation that Brazil will be the winners," Dunga said. "But being favourite doesn't mean you will win the World Cup."
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