SEATTLE, U.S.A. - Robinho made Brazil fans forget the absence of Kaka and Ronaldinho in a hurry.The Real Madrid striker broke a two-all draw in the 63rd minute to help Brazil fend off a resilient Canada, 3:2, Saturday night in a entertaining friendly before 47,052 at Qwest Field.
Robinho capitalized on an errant backpass from Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman to cap off a strong game that saw him figure in on all three Brazil goals. Midfielder Diego and striker Luis Fabiano scored the other goals, both in the first half, for the world's No. 2-ranked nation. For de Guzman, the miscue was a rare blemish in an otherwise strong game. The 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup™ MVP scored Canada's second goal in the 56th minute on a 30-yard rocket and was denied another goal in the first half on a diving save by Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
"It's tough when something like that (backpass) happens, but he (de Guzman) is a terrific player and has improved so much," said Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell. "He does a lot of work, scored one goal, and could have had another. It was another excellent performance for Julian de Guzman."
Rob Friend scored Canada's other goal and was also effective setting up a couple of good scoring chances. Canada had three excellent opportunities to equalize after Robinho's goal, including a breakaway by Houston Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, but failed to finish its chances.
The loss dropped Canada's all-time record against the five-time world champions to two draws and two losses. Brazil, despite missing Kaka and Ronaldinho with injuries, set the tone from the outset with characteristic ball control skills and creative one-touch passing.
It paid dividends early when Diego opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Robinho went past defender Paul Stalteri just inside the penalty area and fed Diego who slotted a low shot by goalkeeper Pat Onstad. That display was just the start for Robinho, who pressured Canada's back four all evening with his pace and ball control.
"It's no surprise," said Dunga, Brazil's head coach. "Every time he comes to play for the national team, he plays with motivation, and he passes on that happiness to his teammates."
Despite trailing throughout the game, Canada did not panic, but maintained its style of play and game plan of keeping ball possession. That patience paid off just six minutes after Brazil's opening goal. Friend came on to a Mike Klukowski cross and headed the ball by the late-charging Cesar to tie the match at one. Canada faced countless Brazilian waves amid dozens of camera flashes, but did not retreat into a defensive shell.
Instead, Mitchell's side continued to work and play its attacking style, generating scoring chances from both its own build-up and quick counterattacks. "To go down in the fourth minute, it would have been easy to concede more, but we got a goal from Rob Friend," said Mitchell. "I was pleased. We played good football and kept the ball on the ground."
At times, Canada's play mimicked that of Brazil with quick passing, ball movement, overlapping runs and use of all parts of the field. Canada's surprisingly strong performance was a product of good preparation, according to de Guzman.
"Every camp I've been to in the last two years, it's been quality," said the Deportivo la Coruna midfielder. "We've had a chance to gel over a short period of time and it (playing Brazil) is a chance for us to step up our game and show we're a top team in CONCACAF."
Brazil took a 2-1 lead in the 45th minute when Fabiano headed a cross from Gilberto that Onstad saved, but the ball's momentum carried it into the goal.
After Robinho's go-ahead goal, Brazil emptied its bench, bringing in Adriano and Alexandre Pato among six new players. The substitutions bogged down the game midway through the second half, but both teams returned to form for the final 15 minutes creating good scoring chances.
In the 84th minute, second half sub Tam Nsaliwa drove past three Brazilian defenders only to send the ball just wide of the post. Three minutes later Adriano sent a screaming shot from 30 yards out that sailed just over the crossbar.
Canada was unlucky to not score more in the first half and could have easily gone up 3:1 heading into the break had it executed on two great scoring chances.
In the 24th minute, Friend sent midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran through on a clear breakaway, but the youngster's shot went just wide of the goal. Then, eight minutes later, de Guzman took a pass from Friend at the edge of the penalty area, moved into the middle and blasted a left-footed shot that forced Cesar to make a diving save.
Mitchell, despite the missed opportunities, had high praise for his team. "Without a doubt, these are the most skilled athletes in our history, no disrespect to the teams of the past," Mitchell said. "It's a highly-skilled team for Canada."
Canada next takes on Panama in a closed-door friendly in Fort Lauderdale, USA, on June 4, while Brazil travels to Foxborough, USA, to continue its U.S. tour with a friendly against Venezuela on June 6 at Gillette Stadium.