By Andrew Cawthorne
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Brazil showed doubters they can still play entertaining soccer in a 3-0 demolition of Chile on Monday that took them into the World Cup quarter-finals and sent the first South American team home.
Coach Dunga has taken plenty of flak in his homeland for sacrificing some of Brazil's traditional flair in favor of a more disciplined approach but his players showed a frightening combination of both at Ellis Park.
"We just had to come across Brazil as early as the second round. They're the best team in the world," said Chile's captain and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo after coming up against Brazil's best performance of the World Cup so far.
The win sets up a fantastic last eight clash on Friday in Port Elizabeth against a similarly talent-packed Netherlands.
Coming into the match on the back of seven consecutive defeats by Brazil, the Chileans nevertheless tried to take the game to their illustrious opponents, pouring forward in numbers at every opportunity in an evenly-matched first half an hour.
Brazil's playmaker Kaka, back from suspension after missing the goalless draw against Portugal, was booked for a foul on Arturo Vidal and his team's forays were largely frustrated.
But Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa's game plan backfired when defender Juan rose high above a fragile-looking defense to power home Maicon's corner in the 34th minute.
From then, it was back to the Brazil of old.
The in-form striker rounded the keeper to score his third goal of the World Cup and effectively end the contest.
Bielsa, who has transformed Chile into one of South America's best sides in the last three years, threw caution to the wind in the second half, replacing center back Pablo Contreras with attacking midfielder Rodrigo Tello.
It did little to interrupt Brazil's dominance.
After 59 minutes, Ramires surged through the heart of the Chilean midfield and laid a short ball to Robinho, who curled a right foot shot past Bravo to make it 3-0 and delight the hordes of Brazilians packed into the stadium on a chilly night.
True to the attacking philosophy that earned them second place in the South American qualifiers, Chile kept pressing to the end, creating some chances but generally held at bay by a strong and determined Brazilian defense.
In contrast, Chile's back line looked vulnerable in the absence of Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce, both suspended.
"Brazil's superiority was too much for us and we unable to slow them down," Bielsa said.
The result meant Chile were the first of South America's five teams to go out of the tournament after an impressive showing that has contrasted with the stuttering displays by some of Europe's soccer powers, notably France, Italy and England.
"South American football has evolved a lot and it's being showcased in this World Cup," an ecstatic Robinho said.
"It's an attacking game."
The famously grumpy Dunga, who sipped water while the rest of his bench hugged ecstatically after Brazil's opening goal, was not resting on his laurels.
"We have to improve in all sectors of our play," he said.
"Chile played exceptionally well with a lot of possession and they passed very well but Brazil were able to maintain a balanced control."
The Brazilians will have to be at their best to contain a Netherlands side boasting arguably as much attacking talent as their own, not least wing wizard Arjen Robben who had earlier put on a superb display in the 2-1 win against Slovakia.
(Additional reporting by Gideon Long and Helen Popper; Editing by Ken Ferris)