Brazil 2-1 Chile: Sub Robinho ensures Seleção maintain winning momentum as World Cup looms ever closer
Substitute Robinho headed in to ensure Brazil ended 2013 with a 2-1 victory against Chile in Toronto.
The 29 year-old, scoring his first Seleção goal since 2011, stooped to meet Maicon’s right-wing cross at the far post with eleven minutes remaining.
Hulk had given Brazil the lead on 13 minutes, after being put through by Oscar, who pounced on a loose Marcos González pass.
Eduardo Vargas’ equaliser, a smart finish from just outside the area, seemed to have earned Chile a draw, before Robinho struck.
The victory is Brazil’s sixth in a row and the perfect end to a year that has put them on track for next summer’s World Cup. Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side face South Africa next in March.
The head coach made three changes from the side that thumped Honduras 5-0 on Saturday. Júlio César replaced Victor in goal, while Thiago Silva and Hulk were preferred to Bernard and Dante.
Brazil started sharply. A deflected ball was flicked on by Jô into the path of Neymar, who shot across Claudio Bravo, but just beyond the veteran goalkeeper’s far post.
With just eight minutes gone, Chile lost Basel midfielder Marcelo Díaz to injury. He was replaced by Jean Beausejour.
The change seemed to unsettle them. Brazil were quick to take advantage. González’ pass out of defence was wayward. Oscar intercepted, quickly feeding the ball to the on-rushing Hulk, who fired beyond Bravo.
Brazil were in control, but failed to create further clear openings in the first half. A poor header from Vargas, volleyed just over by Jô, was the closest they came to a second goal before the interval.
If González was at fault for the opener, the defender atoned for his error early in the second half, with a stretched clearance denying Paulinho a tap-in. From the resulting corner, Hulk shot just over.
Neymar was growing increasingly impossible for Chile to shackle. His forward drive created another opening for Paulinho. The midfielder’s shot was pushed out by Bravo, with Oscar unable to convert the rebound.
Chile had struggled to test Júlio César, yet on 70 minutes they drew level. Bravo’s long goal-kick was flicked on by Beausejour. The ball fell to Vargas. The Grêmio forward’s control was instant, his finish unstoppable.
Back came Brazil. Maicon broke down the right. His cut-back found substitute Willian, who crossed for Neymar to tap-in, but he was correctly judged to be offside.
Bravo then blocked a further Neymar attempt - the 21 year-old had twice flicked the ball over the stopper in the build up - before he put Maicon clear to set up Robinho, who couldn't miss from six yards out.
Brazil 2-1 Chile - Hulk (13’), Eduardo Vargas (70’), Robinho (79’)
Brazil: Júlio César; Maicon, David Luiz, Thiago Silva (Dante 73’), Maxwell; Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho (Hernanes 82’); Hulk (Willian 63’), Oscar (Ramires 63’), Neymar (Lucas Leiva 90’); Jô (Robinho 50’)
Chile: Claudio Bravo; Gonzalo Jara, Marcos González, Gary Medel, Eugenio Mena; Carlos Carmona, Marcelo Díaz (Jean Beausejour 8’), José Pedro Fuenzalida (Jorge Valdivia 21’ (Matías Fernández 58’)); Alexis Sánchez, Eduardo Vargas, Felipe Gutiérrez (Carlos Muñoz 86’)