Brazil has humbled world and European Champions Spain with a crushing 3-0 win in the Confederations Cup final, ending their opponents’ three-year record run of 29 unbeaten competitive matches.
Two goals from Fred, one either side of a stunning left-foot shot from Neymar, gave next year’s World Cup hosts their fifth straight win in the competition as they clinched the trophy for a third time in a row.
Spain endured a miserable night with Sergio Ramos missing a penalty early in the second half and Gerard Pique being sent off for a lunge on his new Barcelona team mate Neymar after 68 minutes.
Fred put Brazil ahead after two minutes, Neymar added a majestic second just before halftime and the crowd erupted again when Fred made it 3-0 two minutes after the re-start with his fifth goal of the competition.
The Maracana crowd taunted Spain and chanted “the giant is back” as Brazil overpowered Vicente del Bosque’s team whose last competitive defeat was against Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup.
Earlier protesters and police clashed outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium, only minutes before the kick-off of the final.
Some 5,000 people sang and danced to samba music as they marched towards the stadium, before being blocked by a police security cordon on Sunday.
More than 11,000 police and troops were mobilised to ensure security for 78,000 fans at the Maracana arena as the curtain falls on a tournament hit by the unprecedented social unrest, with more than 1.5 million Brazilians taking to the streets nationwide over the past two weeks.