Goals from Felipe Melo, Robinho and Maicon helped ease Brazil past the United States in a largely one-sided Confederations Cup Group B encounter. There were fine performances too from Ramires and Kaka, but in truth, Dunga's team did not have to hit full stride to overcome a poor North American challenge. Sacha Kljestan was sent-off midway through the second half to make Brazil's task even easier, and they march relentlessly towards the semi-finals.
If there was one moment that served to highlight the disparity between the champions of CONMEBOL and the champions of CONCACAF, it came in the 20th minute of this Confederations Cup clash.
The United States were granted their first corner and the captain, Landon Dovovan, opted to take it quickly and aimed a short pass to DaMarcus Beasley. The ball slipped under the Rangers man's foot and allowed Andre Santos to take Brazil free on the counter-attack. A swift touch by Kaka gave Ramires the chance to drive at a hopelessly understaffed USA defence. When the time was right, he rolled the ball into the path of the galloping Robinho, who had little difficulty in adding the South American kings' second goal of the afternoon.
Only six minutes had elapsed before Brazil opened the scoring following a wave of initial pressure. Maicon was given the chance to deliver a free-kick from wide on the right. The full-back's dead-ball was inch perfect for the arriving Felipe Melo who easily out muscled Jonathan Spector to open the scoring with his header.
Brazil had it all their own way for the opening half hour of the clash, with the likes of Kaka, Ramires and Robinho managing to keep their adversaries at arms length with little difficulty.
It could have been three when Real Madrid's Kaka drove from midfield with Michael Bradley chasing and Jay De Merrit backing off. His effort, after taking himself wide, was narrowly off target.
The USA did succeed in easing the immense pressure to an extent though; Landon Donvan involved himself a bit more and appeared to possess the subtlety to potentially unlock the Brazil defence.
However, the fragility in defence remained; Maicon was a constant menace and he provided a pair of crosses as the half wound down that should have widened Brazil's lead. Gilberto Silva fed the Inter man on the wing and continued his run to the area. He couldn't aim his header on target though. Similarly, Felipe Melo didn't profit when Maicon's delivery found him at the back post. A dubious challenge from Oguchi Onyewu on Miranda went unpunished in the build-up, but Melo's volley was erratic in any case.
USA made inroads at the outset of the half, with substitute Conor Casey feeding Jozy Altidore to shoot wide just after the whistle and Jonathan Bornstein doing similar for Michael Bradley moments later. A change of shape seemed to make the States more competitive, but their progress was only fleeting.
Robinho, from Ramires' prompt, and then Kaka forced Tim Howard to work before things were tipped irreversibly into the Brazilians' favour.
Sacha Kljestan went over the top in a late tackle on Ramires and was duly dismissed by Massimo Busacca and Team US found themselves quickly 3-0 down. Again the move had its foundations on the right, with Maicon ghosting past his marker and laying the ball to the feet of the lively Ramires. The slight attacker found Kaka with a short pass and the maestro slipped Maicon in, who had carried himself almost to the byline. From an acute angle, the full-back lifted the ball over Howard and into the top corner.
He could have had another from distance moments later, but his thumping shot was blocked.
Dunga withdrew some of his stellar performers, as the Brazilians began to ease up; Landon Donovan's free-kick had Julio Cesar interested with 20 minutes to play, but it flew wide without a touch from any American striker.
Solid, without being spectacular, Brazil continued to lord it over their rivals. Against a backdrop of vuvuzelas and Mexican waves, the team in yellow executed a keep-ball exercise but rarely exerted themselves on Howard's goal.
They were almost made to pay for their laxity with seven minutes remaining; some good work from Spector on the flank allowed Donovan to tee-up the substitute, Benny Feilhaber. From distance, he crashed a drive against the crossbar. Immediately roused from their slumber, Brazil broke free and only a scuffed shot from Julio Baptista prevented a fourth.
However, the USA had pride to salvage before exiting the competition and were almost granted a consolation as the game seeped towards injury time. Again, Donovan's delivery from the free-kick was top rate. Casey's header was good too, but the width of the crossbar prevented the Coloado Rapids' man scoring.
Ultimately, Brazil were well deserving of their three-goal winning margin and will take some stopping in this competition. Next up is Italy; they are likely to tussle to see who has the right to avoid Spain in the semi-finals.
Brazil (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio (Luisao 70'), Miranda, Andre Santos; Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva; Kaka (Julio Baptista 68'), Robinho, Ramires; Luis Fabiano (Nilmar 68')
USA (4-5-1): Howard; Spector, Onyewu, De Merrit; Bornstein; Bradley, Kljestan, Dempsey; Beasley (Casey h/t), Donovan; Altidore (Feilhaber 60')
Brazil: Felipe Melo 6', Robinho 20', Maicon 62'
USA: Onyewu 32', Kljestan 55' SENT OFF
Referee: Busacca (SUI)
Peter Staunton, Goal.com