As the South American championships moved into its final stages, the favourites enjoyed contrasting fortunes. Record champions Argentina eased past their semi-final opponents Columbia by a 3-0 margin, despite missing captain Ayala through suspension, and star player Javier Saviola, who was out injured.
Brazil, on the other hand, did also make it through toSunday night’s final, but more by luck than convincing football. Uruguay had their own ideas about the outcome of the game, taking the lead through Sosa after 20 minutes. Adriano levelled the score in the second half, and that was how it remained, forcing the game into extra time and penalties. The hero of the game was 22-year-old Brazil keeper Julio Cesar, who kept out Sanchez to give his team victory by the narrowest of margins.
The final itself seemed to have been decided by a beautifully struck Argentinean goal three minutes before the end of normal time – but a brilliant piece of individual skill in the dying seconds from Adriano levelled the score at 2-2. Inevitably, penalties followed, and that man Julio Cesar – he saved the very first spot kick – the next Argentinean took a leaf out of David Beckham’s text book, and Brazil, perhaps undeservedly, were champions.