Come son. I’ll teach you how football is played.
Brazil, having played in each and every edition of the World Cup and the only team to do so, had their objective clearly defined, three full points was the order of the day against the inexperienced Ivory Coast side. Representing every number from 1 to 11, the South American power-house took the field, The Elephants winger Dindane sent his traditional prayers skywards and Soccer City in the South African capital got ready for the battle of the night.
The match started with Robinho selfishly deciding to shoot wide when he could have easily fed the unmarked Fabiano on his left. A few minutes later, Tiote did exactly what every other free-kick taker has done in this World Cup that is, shoot the ball wide. The men from Africa kept on pressing but the Samba Boys had a water-tight defence along with Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo who rigorously patrolled the area just above the Back Four.
A 11th minute foul by Gilberto Silva on former Arsenal team-mate Eboue gave another ‘dead-ball’ scoring opportunity to the underdogs. Didier Drogba, the African footballer of the year, took responsibility and quite uncannily sent it to the highest row in the stadium. Four minutes later, Inter Milan keeper Julio Cesar punched away a threatening Eboue free-kick from the left side of the field.
On the 20th minute mark, a neat dummy from Elano gave a lot of space to Maicon to send in a cross from the right flank, but it was cleared by the Ivory Coast defence-line.
Five minutes later, a tidy exchange of passes between Kaka and Fabiano which involved a back-heel from the Sevilla striker and a pinpoint final ball from the Madrid playmaker gave Fabiano the opportunity to put Brazil ahead. He didn’t disappoint. A smashing drive past the keeper gave Brazil the lead and a control over the proceedings.
The final stages of the first half involved decent shots from Eboue and Dindane in quick succession, but their efforts failed to impress the Brazilian keeper. On the 50th minute mark, Fabiano skipped past three defenders, lifting the ball over their heads in outrageous fashion and scored his second with his left foot. Video replays of the goal clearly showed that Fabiano used his hands at least twice to score that goal. Nevertheless, the score now was 2-0 and Brazil was cruising along. Nine minutes later, the former Manchester City man, Elano sent a screamer towards goal but it swerved wide off the mark. On the 61st minute, Kaka took quite some time inside the penalty box to send a shot towards Coast keeper Barry who punched the ball away; that shot came after a free-flowing exchange of passes in the Brazilian midfield and was easily the best move of the match. On the 62nd minute, Kaka made a driving run on the left of the field and sent in a low cross towards goal; Elano ambled into the box and finished calmly to give Brazil a three-goal lead. Sometime later, a nasty stamp by Tiote on Elano’s shin made an inevitable substitution to happen; the latter gave way to Barcelona Full Back Dani Alves. On the 72nd minute, Tiote sent a left-footed scorcher towards Julio Cesar who parried it away to safety. Ivory Coasts’ best player of the previous match, Gervinho came on in place of Dindane and looked dangerous straight-away. Eight minutes later, Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure sent in a beautiful diagonal cross in the box, Drogba made a clever run and finished home with an unruffled header to give the Africans something to cheer about. The last ten minutes of the match spoiled ‘the beautiful game’ that Brazil had for display throughout the night. The men from Africa, smothered by the superior brand of football from the South Americans, gave away with needless tackles. Kader Keita, who came on as a sub for Kalou, took center-stage, first, with a dangerous stamp on Bastos and then with the greatest piece of ‘play-acting’ seen since the great Rivaldo in 2002. Kaka, who could have been easily taken off by Dunga, had already booked himself once, and was treading on dangerous territory when he raised an arm towards an onrushing Keita. The Ivory Coast man held his face and fell on the ground, as if smashed by the knockout punch of Mohammad Ali. Kaka was given marching orders a few minutes before the final whistle was blown and Brazil had made their passage into the second round guaranteed.
Keita, all set for an alternative career in Hollywood?
THT’s Player of the match: Fabiano
The Sevilla Front-man was clinical with both his finishes and is officially ready to carry the ‘Ronaldo – El Phenomenon’ mantle going forward. Though his second goal looked fairly controversial, his touches were majestic and trademark of a traditional Brazilian target-man.
THT’s Referee Report Card: Stephane Lannoy (France)
Grade – B
The referee was lenient throughout the game except for the red card dished out on Kaka a few minutes before the final whistle. The referee and linesman should have come up with a better decision for the same.
THT’s Play-Acting Oscar of the Day: Kader Keita
Enough Said Already.
BRAZIL 3 – 1 IVORY COAST
Julio Cesar, Michel Bastos, Juan, Lucio, Maicon, Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Robinho (Ramires 93’), Kaka, Elano (Dani Alves 67’), Luis Fabiano
Sent Off: Kaka
Scorers: Fabiano (25′, 50′), Elano (62′)
Boubacar Barry Copa, Siaka Tiene, Didier Zakora, Kolo Toure, Guy Demel, Cheikh Tote, Yaya Toure, Emmanuel Eboue(), Saloman Kalou(Kader Keita 68’), Didier Drogba, Aruna Dindane (Gervinho 54’)
Caution: Tiene, Tiote
Sent Off: None
Scorers: Drogba (80′)