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Alves strikes late to fire Brazil into final

SUBSTITUTE Daniel Alves scored two minutes from time to give holders Brazil a hard-earned 1-0 win over hosts South Africa on Thursday and a place in the Confederations Cup final.

Alves, who had only been on the field for six minutes, lashed home a direct free-kick from the edge of the penalty area after South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena had fouled Ramires.

"I'm always ready to come in, regardless of where the coach wants me to play," said Daniel Alves, normally a right back who came in on the left of defense in the 82nd. "I just wanted to go out there and do everything I could to help the team. Gladly it worked out perfectly."

Brazil, bidding to retain the trophy it won in 2005, will play the United States in tomorrow's final while South Africa meets Spain in the third-place playoff the same day.

Itumeleng Khune made a point blank save with his feet to deny Brazil a second goal when Luis Fabiano was one-on-one with the young South African goalkeeper.

The late flurry was among few moments of enterprise for Brazil, which was playing its sixth international in three weeks and seemed content to soak up most of the pressure.

At times it appeared South Africa might add to the list of shock results at the two-week tournament which had already seen World Cup holder Italy beaten by Egypt in the group phase and European champion Spain sunk by the US in Wednesday's semifinal in Bloemfontein.

The 2010 World Cup hosts, who have been in the doldrums for several years, looked enterprising and were a match for Brazil for most of the game but lacked a finishing touch.

First half chances

South Africa had the better of the first half chances, testing Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar with two long range shots while Mokoena headed over from one meter in the 21st minute.

A Siphiwe Tshabalala free-kick was also palmed over and at the other end Julio Cesar got a fingertip to deny Steven Pienaar's rasping effort two minutes before halftime.

The hosts were tentative at first, with some wild defensive clearances reflecting their nerves, but then gained confidence as they enjoyed most of the possession.

However, when they got to the edge of the Brazilian area they seemed unsure in their decision making.

"The game was very closed so I put on a very quick player, a very aggressive player, who is strong on set pieces," Brazil coach Dunga said. "It was one of the few opportunities we were going to have. The foul was right in front of the goal area, so it was perfect for us."

Dunga said he had not watched the US since the group stage, where Brazil beat the Americans 3-0.


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