Tag Archives: Elano

Lifeless game in Durban sees Brazil & Portugal advance

Portugal 0-0 Brazil

Brazil and Portugal progressed to the Round of 16 as group winners and runners up respectively. The build up to his game promised us an exciting battle of two teams who knew how to entertain. What we got instead was perhaps the worst ninety minutes of football yet seen at this World Cup.

Brazil started promisingly. Dani Alves, replacing the injured Elano in the starting line up, flashed a bouncing shot just wide of the target.

Portugal were finding it difficult to establish themselves in possession. Brazil vigorously pressed Portugal no matter where Carlos Queiroz’s side had control of the football.

Benfica fullback Coentrão, who was catching the attention of the world’s media with some impressive displays against Côte d’Ivoire and North Korea, once again attacked down the left before sending a cross deep into the penalty area. Internazionale goalkeeper Julio Cesar slapped the incoming football as far as Tiago on the edge of the penalty area. Tiago passed to Ronaldo whose effort was blocked.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates were finding it difficult to penetrate the experienced and accomplished Brazilian defence. Tiago’s sliced volley indicative of Portugal’s lack of attacking prowess so far.

Portugal might have breached the wall of Brazilian defenders in the 25th minute. A long pass over the top for Cristiano Ronaldo was deliberately diverted by the arm of Juan. The referee showed the Roma centreback the yellow card and was immediately accosted by three Portuguese players. Benito Archunia did not appreciate the advice of Duda, and added the midfielder’s name to his burgeoning notebook.

Brazil had the advantage in terms of possession and territory and came the closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Nilmar’s close range shot was pushed superbly on to the post by Eduardo. Luís Fabiano supplied an elegant chip for the Villarreal youngster, but Nilmar was unable to convert.

Fabiano himself should have scored. A terrific cross from Maicon on the right was met by the head of the Sevilla striker. Fabiano headed into the ground and wide. His reaction, to lie face down on the turf, was telling.

Brazil should have entered the break with a lead but instead found themselves level with Portugal in a biting encounter, Benito Archunia producing seven yellow cards in the opening forty-five minutes.

If the first half was uninspiring, the second was disheartening. Neither side could muster a prolonged period of pressure in the second half despite a bright start from Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward woke a sleeping audience with a blistering run from just inside the Brazilian half, taking the ball as far as the byline. Lúcio was at hand to tackle Ronado but his sliding challenge acted as a cross for Raul Meireles who had broken forward into the Brazilian penalty area. Meireles’ poor effort was poked at Julio Cesar from an angle.

It had appeared as if Ronaldo was going to seize control of the game and test Brazil. This was not to be, over the next forty-five minutes the Portuguese’s only meaningful contribution was a succession of poorly executed free-kicks.

The second half petered out with no sign of a goal at either end until stoppage time. The decision of the referee to award five minutes of extra time was a questionable one but it did provide Brazil with their only chances in the second half.

Ramires, who was brought on to replace Julio Baptista, tried a shot at goal from twenty-five yards. His attempt was subjected to a wicked deflection which almost caught Eduardo out. The Portuguese goalkeeper had been dependable throughout the Group Stage and had to reach to fend off the dipping football.

The draw allows both sides to progress at the expense of the Côte d’Ivoire, who beat North Korea 3-0. Both Brazil and Portugal will certainly be watching with interest tonight as Chile face the European Champions, Spain, for top spot in Group H. Should Spain qualify as runners up then, in Spain versus Brazil, we may see the kind of breathtaking football that this match failed to deliver to us and the capacity crowd in Durban.


Kaká sent off as Brazil rise to see off Côte d’Ivoire

Brazil 3-1 Côte d’Ivoire

Brazil took a commanding lead in Group G with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sven-Göran Eriksson’s Côte d’Ivoire. Luís Fabiano of Sevilla was the hero for the Seleçao, notching the two opening goals. Galatasaray’s Elano added a third before Didier Drogba enkindled brief hopes of a comeback for the Elephants with a late consolation. A bad tempered second half saw numerous bookings, a repulsive tackle from Kader Keita on Michel Bastos and a potentially serious injury to Elano. The bearer of the famous number 10 shirt of Brazil, Kaká, was sent off in dubious fashion by Stephane Lannoy following a shameful deception by Kader Keita.


Many fans were disappointed with Brazil’s lack of penetration against North Korea in the opening game but there can be no such criticisms following their victory here. The Seleçao took full advantage of every opportunity presented to them by the Ivory Coast and took the lead in the 24th minute via a clinical finish from Luís Fabiano. Kaká has struggled for fitness and form this past season but will have been pleased to see his measured through pass lead to a goal. The Real Madrid midfielder’s pass was taken in stride by Luís Fabiano, who revealed tremendous concentration to slow the ball before clinically finishing into the top corner.

Didier Drogba and the Côte d’Ivoire were stunned by the goal. Prior to falling behind, the Ivorians had produced some high tempo movement and passing but were thwarted by their inability to secure that elusive final ‘killer’ pass.

Brazil slowly manhandled the Côte d’Ivoire out of the match and were unperturbed throughout the remainder of the first half.


Brazil doubled their lead just five minutes after the restart. Fabiano again the scorer, this time with an even more impressive effort. The Sevilla forward flicked the ball over the head of one defender, then another before controlling the ball with his shoulder and unleashing a half-volley towards goal. Boubacar Barry was helpless. It was a tremendous moment of artistry, one worthy of the coveted number 9 shirt inherited from such magicians as Ronaldo and Tostao.

Some will point to the replays and what appeared to be two debatable instances of handball but the moment of inspiration was certainly worthy of a goal. Luís Fabiano’s efforts had effectively ended the match as a footballing contest.

The introduction of Gervinho for the lamentable Aruna Dindane did imbue some vigor into the Ivorian side. His slipperiness and willingness to try and beat defenders was sorely missed in the first half.

Slow and steady became quick and expressive for Brazil around the hour mark. Wingback Maicon, the scorer of that impossible goal against North Korea, marauded down the right flank and found Robinho, who in turn laid off for Kaká. A shot soon followed but was safely slapped away by Barry. Do not mourn for Joga Bonito for it has endured. The efficiency of Dunga’s Brazil may sometimes mask the exuberant element to his side but moments of swift interchanging still surface and we were beginning to catch rare glimpses of it.

Brazil soon added to their advantage. Kaká was finally finding his form again, beating Tiené effortleslly before gliding a pass along the turf for Elano who diverted it into the net. In the process he registered his second goal of the tournament in as many games.

Elano will be thankful that he reinserted his shinguards after removing them in his goal celebration. The former Manchester City midfielder was brought from the field by stretcher following a nasty tackle. The match was quickly becoming ill-tempered.

Brazil continued to display flashes of excellence. One touch passing set Maicon on another jaunt into the Ivorian half, this time he thrilled the 84,000 in attendance with a perfectly executed nutmeg.

Tioté should have been dismissed by Stephane Lannoy following a horrific challenge on Michel Bastos, who himself was lucky that he was not seriously injured by the Tioté’s recklessness.

The Côte d’Ivoire had been poor at creating chances in both this match and their previous fixture with Portugal. They created their first goal of the tournament out from nowhere. Gervinho was in an expanse of space in the centre of the field. It was there that he decided to embark on a rampage past three Brazilian defenders before he ended up at the byline. The Lille player spotted Romaric’s late run towards the penalty area and offloaded. Romaric himself showing terrific awareness to loft the ball onto Didier Drogba’s head after his captain’s well timed run. Drogba headed home and returned the ball hurriedly to the centre-circle.

The heated second half culminated with the dismissal of Kaká for a second bookable offence. The Brazilian star backed into Kader Keita and appeared to have his elbow slightly elevated into the Ivorian’s chest making Keita’s writhing fall to the floor all the more dispicable. Keita covered his face, conning the referee’s assistant into believing that Kaká had violently lashed out at the Galatasaray winger.

An appeal will surely follow for Kaká. In any instance, missing a somewhat meaningless game against Portugal will be of no great harm to Brazil’s World Cup ambitions.

North Koreans undone by Maicon’s brilliance

Brazil 2-1 North Korea

Korea DPR were, as expected, beaten by Brazil in Ellis Park, Tuesday night. What was not expected, however, was the manner in which the victory was achieved. For 54 minutes Brazil attacked in waves against what was effectively a Korean back-seven. Their efforts proved futile until a moment of inspiration from Internazionale wingback Maicon separated the teams with a swerving effort from the byline. Brazil looked as if they were set to begin freescoring when Robinho’s wonderful pass was met with a first-time shot by Elano. The former Manchester City player’s attempt passing Myong Guk in the Korean goal to make it 2-0. For all of their defensive discipline, the North Koreans broke forward with intent on many occassions. Their efforts were rewarded when Ji Yun Nam slotted over Julio Cesar to set up a nervous last three minutes for Brazil.

Korea DPR had not played at a World Cup since 1966, where they famously defeated Italy. Striker Jong Tae Se’s tears at the national anthems underlined the enormity of the occassion for the Koreans. Throughout the first half the Brazilians poured forward into the North Korean half but were consistently turned away by a very disciplined rearguard effort. Coach Kim Jong Hun remained emotionless as his side successfully thwarted Brazil’s incursions.

For all of their defensive capabilities, the North Koreans also possessed a counterattacking threat in the form of Jong. The “People’s Rooney”, so dubbed for his similar physique and dogged playing style, forcing his way past challenges from Felipe Melo and Michel Bastos on occassion to set up opportunities for his side.

Unsurprisingly Brazil had the ascendancy over their counterparts in terms of possession but created precious little chances with it. Kaká was showing none of the form that secured him a record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid while converted left-winger Michel Bastos released several atrocious long range efforts towards Ri Myong Guk’s goal.

Robinho was the star for Brazil in the first half. His early stepovers and nutmeg thrilled the Johannesburg crowd as he set up an shot for Kaká. In the 20th minute Robinho was involved again, showing consummate control to take in Elano’s pass before turning and firing a snapshot towards goal. Unfortunately for him, his attempt was straight at the goalkeeper.

The teams went in to halftime level. North Korea’s negative tactics, such as bringing all eleven of their players into the penalty area to defend corners and consistently leaving their two defensive midfielders embedded in their back-five, were paying dividends.

The second half began in much the same fashion as the first. Brazil controlled possession and continued to create half-chances. Maicon blasted a freekick wide of the target while Maicon urged the crowd to lift the Seleçåo.

It was Maicon who would finally end the steadfast Korean resistance. Elano passed to Maicon who approached the ball with pace before striking a venemous effort from the tightest of angles past Myong Guk. First glance made the goal look like a monumental error had been committed by the goalkeeper but on second viewing it was clear that Maicon’s shot had swerved phenomenally past the goalkeeper.

Brazil were soon two goals to the good. The ever-present Robinho played a meticulous pass into the path of Elano and the Galatasaray midfielder obligingly slotted past the goalkeeper with a sidefooted shot into the bottom corner.

It seemed that Brazil had finally broken down Korea DPR and were on their way to a routine victory until the 88th minute. Jong Tae Se was inevitably involved in the build-up, heading down a terrific long ball into the path of Ji Yun Nam who dispatched a fine finish over Julio Cesar. His habitually calm manager, Kim Jong Hun, showed his delight at the goal with a well earned fist pump.

Kim’s side were unable to find an unlikely equaliser but succeed in defying the expectations of the watching world. Brazil deservedly won but must now improve if they are to beat Côte d’Ivoire, who were unfortunate not to beat Portugal. Portugal, aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, lacked inspiration in attack and if Korea DPR can must a similar defensive effort in the upcoming fixture then they will have a fighting chance of achieving a point.