Brazil vs. Ivory Coast: Brazil coasts into World Cup second round with 3-1 win

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 21, 2010

JOHANNESBURG -- A World Cup match involving Brazil bears a different vibe than the others in the tournament. It's not just a game; it's an event.

You see the difference in the rush of activity on the access roads seven hours before kickoff, in the burst of camera flashes and in the balloons floating from the stadium upper deck. You hear it in the waves of drum and song, a rhythm rudely interrupted by the vuvuzela scourge.

After making its 2010 debut at a side theater last week, the green-and-yellow ensemble took center stage Sunday evening at Soccer City Stadium, the mammoth showcase of this South African World Cup. With Brazil, everything is magnified, and in the 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast in front of 84,455, two incidents are sure to overshadow the dominant performance.

Luis Fabiano scored two goals, though the second one probably should have been disallowed for a handball, and Kaká, the inspiration behind the attack, was ejected in the closing moments.

While Germany, England, Italy and France -- holders of nine World Cup titles among them -- are in danger of being eliminated in the first round, five-time champion Brazil (2-0) has secured passage to the round of 16.

"The Brazilian team can go the whole way," Ivory Coast Coach Sven Goran Eriksson said. "To beat Brazil, you have to be almost perfect."

Led by Brazil, South America's five teams have been almost perfect (7-0-2). Conversely, Africa is now 1-7-4 and faces the embarrassing prospect of, in the first World Cup on the continent, losing all six teams in the first round.

Ivory Coast (0-1-1) was the best hope for long-term success with a lineup that boasted five players from English clubs. Chelsea striker Didier Drogba made his first start since fracturing his right forearm in the final tuneup and scored in the 79th minute. By then, the outcome had been settled.

Ivory Coast's clinical tackling interrupted Kaká's early runs, but in the 25th minute, the Real Madrid star set up Fabiano's first goal. Robinho pushed the ball to Fabiano, who back-heeled to Kaká. In tight space, Kaká broke from one defender and beat Didier Zokora before slotting the ball back to Fabiano for a ferocious, eight-yard shot.

Five minutes into the second half, Fabiano scored again on a play that, at first glance, was shear brilliance. He beat Siaka Tiene to a header, chipped the ball over Zokora and then did the same to Kolo Touré before finding the right corner. TV replays showed, however, that his right arm made contact with the ball twice.

When asked whether he had handled it, Fabiano smiled and said: "That is true. It seems the ball hit my hand and my shoulder. It was not a voluntary handball. It was quite a legitimate goal and magnificent goal, if I may say so."

Said Eriksson: "It's difficult to cope with Fabiano, but it's even more difficult if he is allowed to use his hands. Of course it's a handball, not once but twice."

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