Brazil 3, Ghana 0
â€œWe won the game, but the result doesnâ€™t show it was not an easy game at all,â€? Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. â€œThe first half they did well, they should have scored. They had chances.â€? The result secured Brazil in the quarterfinals for the fourth straight time - the last time it was eliminated in the second round was in 1990 in Italy, when it lost to archrival Argentina.
Brazil ended Ghanaâ€™s scrappy World Cup debut Tuesday with three streaking goals, the first an early flash by Ronaldo that made him the most prolific scorer in tournament history. Ronaldo netted his 15th World Cup goal in the fifth minute - putting him past German Gerd Mueller as the tournamentâ€™s all-time leading scorer - and Adriano and Ze Roberto added one each to give Brazil the 3-0 win.
â€œI want to continue to increase the record,â€? Ronaldo said, â€œbut without forgetting that the main goal in the World Cup is winning the title. We know that we are going to face more difficult rivals every time, and we have to be prepared for that.â€?
Ghana made Brazil work for its 11th straight World Cup win, challenging the five-time champions and outplaying them at times, but their shots were either off the mark or well within reach of goalkeeper Dida. â€œWe won the game, but the result doesnâ€™t show it was not an easy game at all,â€? Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. â€œThe first half they did well, they should have scored. They had chances.â€?
The result secured Brazil in the quarterfinals for the fourth straight time - the last time it was eliminated in the second round was in 1990 in Italy, when it lost to archrival Argentina. Brazil will face either France or Spain, who play later Tuesday in Hanover. â€œThe big guys are coming to the quarterfinals,â€? Parreira said. â€œIt is getting closer and closer. Itâ€™s getting tougher and tougher.â€?
Each of Brazilâ€™s goals was built upon long, penetrating passes. Ronaldo put Brazil ahead early, breaking the offside trap near midfield and receiving a perfectly timed pass from midfielder Kaka. With a brilliant stepover move he beat advancing Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson at the top of the box, then right-footed the ball into the net just as flailing defender John Pantsil arrived. Ronaldo said he never intended to go after the World Cup scoring record - it just came to him.
â€œIt was never my goal, it just happened match after match,â€? he said. â€œThis is the result of a lots work, lots of sacrifice.â€?Adriano added to Brazilâ€™s lead in a breakaway one minute into first-half injury time, using his left thigh to complete a right-flank cross from captain Cafu. Defender Lucio started the play at midfield, giving the ball to Kaka, who then found Cafu on the right side.
Replays showed Adriano appeared to be offside when he touched the ball into the net. Fans heavily booed when the big screen at the stadium showed the replay. Ze Roberto closed the scoring in the 84th, getting past Kingson and finding the open net.
â€œThey faced a great team, the world champions, they are the best in competition, defending champions,â€? Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic said. â€œIt is not a shame to lose to Brazil.â€? After allowing the early goal, Ghana pushed forward and pressured Brazil, which was forced to rely on counterattacks. Though the Ghanaians had more scoring chances, Dida shut them out with a solid performance.
Ghana outshot the Brazilians 25-21, and Ghana striker Matthew Amoah had two good chances in the 24th, first just missing a pass from Draman and shooting wide of the net from the top of the penalty area. Asamoah Gyan came close in the 35th, sending a shot from inside the area over the crossbar, and again in the 69th, when his shot from near the penalty spot was saved.
Dida also stopped Gyanâ€™s 79th-minute shot from inside the area. John Mensah had one of the matchâ€™s best opportunities with a close-range header in the 42nd, but Dida made a great save with his right leg.
Ghana was physical from the beginning, picking up four yellow cards in the first half alone. It had two others in the second half. Gyan was sent off in the 81st for diving, his second yellow.
While Brazil is seeking a record sixth title, Ghana was trying to become only the third African team to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Senegal did it in 2002 and Cameroon made it in 1990. No African team has reached the semifinals. Playing in their first World Cup, the Africans finished second to three-time champion Italy in Group E, which also included the United States and the Czech Republic.
Brazil came into the match boosted by a convincing 4-1 win over Japan, when Parreira fielded five reserve players to rest some starters. The regulars were recalled for Tuesdayâ€™s match, though many in Brazil wanted Parreira to keep playing some of the second stringers who performed well against Japan.
But this far into the tournament, Parreira went back to his starters, and back after sitting out Thursday were defenders Roberto Carlos and Cafu; midfielders Emerson and Ze Roberto; and striker Adriano. Cicinho, Gilberto, Gilberto Silva and Juninho returned to the bench.
Brazil striker Robinho sat out because of a thigh injury, while Ghana was missing suspended midfielder Michael Essien. The Africans had the return from suspension of key midfielder Sulley Muntari and Gyan.
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