TORONTO – Hulk and Robinho scored to lift Brazil to a 2-1 victory over Chile in a soccer friendly Tuesday, a game that was both part of World Cup preparations and a spirited match between two South American teams.
Hulk scored in the 14th minute, the goal coming after Oscar intercepted a pass out of Chile's backfield. Oscar sent a long cross to Hulk, who launched a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Robinho gave the Brazilians the lead in the 80th minute when he headed in a perfectly placed goalmouth cross from Maicon.
Eduardo Vargas scored Chile's goal in the 71st minute, taking a short pass from Jean Beausejour and launching a long shot that tucked just inside the left corner, catching Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar flat-footed.
"They played very well," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said through a translator. "You could see that we created several opportunities for goals. We didn't have more than two goals, but we had seven or eight opportunities, and I think that we played well."
The match featured some of the game's biggest stars — 21-year-old striker Neymar for Brazil, and Chile's Alexis Sanchez. It also marked Brazil's final match of 2013 and part of the team's preparations for the 2014 World Cup in its home country — which Scolari promised last week that Brazil, already five-time World Cup champions, will win.
The No. 11-ranked Brazilians — one spot ahead of Chile in the FIFA rankings — scored on the only shot on net in the first half. But both teams came alive in a fast-paced final 45 minutes, keeping the noisy Rogers Centre crowd on its feet.
In the 56th minute, a shot from Robinho — just a couple of minutes after he entered the game — appeared destined for the net before Bravo dove to clear it.
Less than a minute later, Hulk sent a 20-yard shot off the crossbar.
The Brazilian contingent in the crowd roared whenever Neymar, a striker for Barcelona, had the ball, including a spectacular 60-yard run in the first half that saw him lose possession on Chile's end line. Neymar looked poised to score in the 83rd minute, when he was 1-on-1 with Chile's goalkeeper only to trip over the ball in the 18-yard box.
A chanting, singing crowd of more than 30,000 packed the Rogers Centre, dressed in either the canary yellow jerseys of Brazil or the red and white of La Roja (The Red One).
"I don't think there were any Canadians, I saw Chileans and Brazilians," Scolari joked, then added: "Probably there was a lot of Canadians there and we received in our hearts the love that they provided to us."
The match was played on a temporary grass field. Two days after the stadium hosted the CFL East Division final on turf, real grass had been rolled out for the friendly, and while it looked decent at first glance, it wasn't.
Early in the game, Brazilian defender David Luiz picked up and replaced a huge chunk of dislodged turf, and then stamped it down with his foot.
A few minutes later, two Brazilians could be seen replacing a chunk of turf. By halftime, an official ran onto the field during every stoppage to tamp down loose pieces.
"I think that for us and for the Chileans, it was difficult," Scolari said, adding the turf should have been laid earlier than Monday. "The turf was not one that permits the ball to run as fast as a player like (Brazil striker) Neymar could take advantage of."
It marked Brazil's first game in Canada in almost 20 years and the first in Toronto. The Brazilians last played in Canada in June 1994 in Edmonton, settling for a 1-1 tie against the Canadians in front of 51,936 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.
Brazil came into the game on a roll, unbeaten in five games, and the Confederations Cup champions after a 3-0 victory in the final over World Cup champs Spain. And on Saturday in Miami, Brazil routed Honduras 5-0.
Chile has also had some strong results, including a 2-0 win over England in a friendly Friday at Wembley Stadium that ended England's 10-game unbeaten streak.
"What I take from this game is the courage, the willingness, the desire that our team showed, to play head to head with one of the best teams in the world ... on a field that wasn't in the best conditions," Chilean coach Jorge Sampaoli said through an interpreter. "We were playing against a team whose subs, if you look at the names, are some of the top players in the world."