[BRAZIL-IVORY COAST] Not often did Brazil flick on its irrepressible style, yet it cruised into the round of 16 by outclassing a very disappointing Ivory Coast, 3-1, Sunday in Johannesburg. Here's what we liked and didn't like about Brazil's triumph over Ivory Coast. ...
What we liked ...
-- LUIS FABIANO. Without a goal for his nation since last November, and playing for a Brazil lacking both Ronaldinho and Ronaldo at a World Cup for the first time since 1998, he struck midway through the first half and again shortly after halftime for a 2-0 lead.
Kaka slipped a ball through the Ivorian back line for Luis Fabiano to smash past goalie Boubacar Barry and into the roof of the net to open the scoring. And Fabiano used several parts of his body – including both arms – to control a bouncing ball before hammering it past Barry from close range. With a 2-0 lead, Brazil relaxed somewhat and played some wonderful soccer while also notching a third goal to clinch a spot in the knockout phase with a group game against Portugal still to play.
-- MAICON. His powerful runs and dribbles up the right flank, long a staple of Brazil’s game, thrilled the crowd and took some of the attacking burden off Kaka, who endured a lackluster performance and departed with two yellow cards in quick succession. One of Maicon’s runs yielded a cutback ball to Robinho, who fired a rising shot that Barry palmed over the crossbar.
What we didn’t like ...
-- TIMID PERFORMANCE. Any opponent has to show Brazil some respect, but the Ivorians were timid from the opening whistle and thus failed to exploit numerous turnovers gifted to them as Brazil lurched through the early going. After an aggressive and spirited display in a 0-0 tie with Portugal, Ivory Coast lacked confidence and played predictable, ponderous sequences the experienced Brazilians easily thwarted.
Wings Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane sputtered miserably and were substituted; striker Didier Drogba seldom saw much of the ball even though he headed in a Yaya Toure serve late in the match. Missed tackles and slow reactions contributed to all three of Brazil’s goals. To advance, the Elephants need a lot of help and a big win over North Korea in their final match.
-- DUNGA. The Brazil coach and captain of the 1994 World Cup-winning team heckled, shouted and stomped about his coaching box for the entire match. A skilled yet pugnacious midfielder in his playing days, he reacted to every call against his team and every bit of contact with wild gestures and furious shouts. His badgering of referee Stephane Lannoy may have backfired, as Dunga had savagely roared at the referee for handing out the first caution to Kaka in the 85th minute after an incident near the sideline just in front of the Brazil bench. When Kaka dug an elbow into Kader Keita near the sideline after several minutes of Dunga tirade, the second yellow card came out.
-- STEPHANE LANNOY. The referee somehow missed two handballs on Luis Fabiano’s second goal, yet just as bad was his cozy, friendly exchange with the player as the ball was retrieved from the net to resume play. The smiling official gestured that the ball had come off Fabiano’s chest before he drilled it into the net, whereas replays cleared showed the Brazilian had brought it down with his right biceps. He’d used his left forearm to control it earlier; using both arms on the same play to score a goal is not the ambidextrous ability most Brazilian players strive to display.