Brazil beats Uruguay, advances to final
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP)
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Goals from Fred and Paulinho helped Brazil defeat Latin American rivals Uruguay 2-1 in the Confederations Cup semifinal securing the five-time World Cup champions a place on Sunday's final at Rio de Janeiro.
The championship game is Sunday and protests already have been announced for Maracana Stadium.
As thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with police nearby, inside Mineirao Stadium, Brazil was inconsistent, but good enough.
''It's a new team and this is going to help us grow for the World Cup,'' Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said. ''We know that we can face a very difficult opponent (and win).''
Diego Forlan could have put Uruguay ahead in the 14th minute, but Julio Cesar dived to his left to stop Forlan's low penalty kick after Brazilian defender David Luiz was called for tugging the shirt of Diego Lugano. Only four of eight penalties kicks in the tournament have been successful.
Brazil took the lead in the 41st. Neymar brought down Paulinho's high ball, and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera saved Neymar's attempt. The loose ball trickled across the penalty area, and Fred scored despite scuffing his shot.
Edinson Cavani took advantage of sloppy defending to tie the score three minutes into the second half, intercepting Thiago Silva's pass to Marcelo after a poor clearance by David Luiz.
Neymar (L) helped deliver the game-winning goal for Brazil against Uruguay (Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).
Paulinho scored the winning goal when he got away from Martin Caceres at the back post and beat Muslera from 4 yards with an open header after the goalkeeper came off his line.
''We are not ready yet,'' Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. ''We have to go through this, through all these situations so we can grow and evolve ... and reach the World Cup in better shape.
''What I have to show them is the progress that they made. This is how I make them self-confident.''
Outside the stadium, protesters' anger was directed at the government and police. Inside, the animosity was directed from the start at Lugano, the Uruguay captain who enraged Brazilian fans on the eve of the match by accusing Neymar of diving.
Slack defending helped Uruguay as several chances to clear the ball out of danger were wasted. Thiago Silva's pass to Marcelo was easily intercepted by Cavani, who scored past Cesar.
However shoddy the work of Brazil's defenders, the quality of the forwards started to shine through as the game became feisty, with five yellow cards awarded. Neymar exchanged taunts with Uruguay's Alvaro Gonzalez before sarcastically blowing him a kiss.
But Neymar helped ensure Brazil had the last say as he floated a corner kick into the penalty area that Paulinho rose above Caceres to meet and head into the net.
''It was an even match, maybe we even had more chances than Brazil, but football is like this,'' Uruguay striker Luis Suarez said. ''In the end, they found a way to win.''
Security was high at the semifinal as protesters, in part angered by the billions of dollars spent on World Cup preparations, targeted this high-profile match in the latest in a series of demonstrations in Brazil during the tournament. They were met by tear gas and rubber bullets during clashes with police, but the match itself was unaffected by the protests.
6,000 police were called in and ten helicopters were deployed overhead in attempt to stop the marchers from reaching the stadium before the game. 1,500 army troops were also deployed at subway stations, the airport and the streets that surround the stadium.
Seeking its third straight title in the World Cup preparation tournament, Brazil will play Spain or Italy in Sunday's final at Rio de Janeiro.
FOX Soccer's Jamie Trecker contributed to this report.