KEIR RADNEDGE in BELO HORIZONTE
—– One of the biggest domestic security operations in the last 20 years is guaranteed here on Wednesday when Uruguay face Brazil in Belo Horizonte in the semi-finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Belo Horizonte was the scene of more football-linked protest demonstrations on Saturday before and after the tie between Mexico and Japan. An estimated 65,000 protesters were driven back by military police in riot gear after marching on the Mineirao stadium.
An enhanced repeat of the multi-issued demonstration is expected on Wednesday, according to a local police source, since the match will provide a focus of both national and international attention.
The football match-up has enough turbulent tension of its own owing to Uruguay’s historic defeat of Brazil in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro in the final match of the 1950 World Cup.
Uruguay secured their place in the semi-finals via second spot in Group B after thrashing Tahiti, the brave and popular minnows from the South Pacific, by 8-0 in Recife. World and European champions Spain topped the group after defeating African title-holders Nigeria 3-0 in Fortaleza.
Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain claimed a maximum nine points followed by Uruguay on six, Nigeria on three and Tahiti on none. Tahiti conceded 24 goals in their three games and scored one.
Jordi Alba set La Roja on their way against Nigeriawith a third-minute goal after a typical, high-speed interpassing move and newly-arrived substitute Fernando Torres scored with a specular diving header in the 62nd.
Alba’s breakaway solo second led Spain on to a Euro 2012 Final repeat against Italy in Thursday’s second semi-final back in Fortaleza. Just to emphasise the pair’s European command, Spain beat Italy 4-2 in last Tuesday’s Euro under-21 final in Israel.
Uruguay demolished Tahiti despite having midfielder Andres Scotti sent off for a second yellow card early in the second half.
Abel Hernandez scored four goals (a first-half hat-trick after two, 24 and 45 minutes) plus a 67th-minute penalty. The others came from Diego Perez (27), Nicolas Lodeiro (61) and Luis Suarez (82 and 90).
Hernandez’s first goal, in an official one minute 19 seconds, was credited by FIFA as the fastest in Confederations Cup history.
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