Brazil, France have the right numbers to reach final eight
The final score of the match between defending champion Brazil and Ghana may have been 3-0 in favor of the South Americans, but Ghana made Brazil work hard for its 11th straight World Cup victory.
“We won the game, but the result doesn’t show it was not an easy game at all,” Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said to The Associated Press. “The first half they did well. They should have scored. They had chances.”
The number in the age column next to French captain Zinedine Zidane indicates he just turned 34 on Friday, but the midfielder, who will retire for the second time after the World Cup, showed that age is just a number.
He scored a goal and set up another in France’s 3-1 victory over Spain, which suffered its first loss in 26 matches since Luis Aragones took over as head coach.
“Retirement? I’m sorry to tell [the Spaniards] that it won’t be after this match,” Zidane told Reuters. “The adventure continues.”
In the day’s first match, Brazil eliminated the only African nation in the knockout stage with three goals that came on borderline offsides.
In the fifth minute, Ronaldo became the World Cup’s all-time scoring leader, getting his 15th overall on a pass from Kaka that sent him clear of Ghana’s defense. Then near the first half break, Cafu’s low cross from right found Adriano near the goal for the second score.
The third goal, by Ze Roberto, also came on a pass that created a one-on-one breakaway.
After the second goal, Ghana players protested to no avail. Their coach, Ratomir Dujkovic, was ejected from the game at halftime for excessive arguing.
Still, Ghana pushed Brazil harder than other opponents at the World Cup, and exposed holes in Brazil’s defense on several occasions. However, most of their shots either missed the net or went directly at goalkeeper Dida.
Afterward, Dujkovic praised his players in the World Cup for the first time.
“I’m very proud of my team and of the way they fought, not just today but right from the start of the tournament,” he was quoted as saying on FIFA’s World Cup Web site. “The next time, Ghana can expect to do even better.”
While Ghana players can pat themselves on the back, the Brazilians will march on in the quest for their to sixth World Cup title. They will play France in a quarterfinal match between the two most recent champions and also a rematch of the 1998 final, won by France.
In the France-Spain game, Zidane, who was suspended for the team’s last game against Togo with two yellow cards accumulated in previous matches, returned with a bang.
With the score even at one in the 83rd minute, his curling free kick found a charging Patrick Vieira for a go-ahead header. In injury time, the veteran broke in alone for the dagger, his first World Cup goal since 1998.
With the victory, Spain’s World Cup futility has extended to 76 years.
Now that the captain has come alive, and other veterans have picked up the pace, can France win its second World Cup?
“We are still far from winning the cup but that’s our target,” Vieira told The Associated Press. “We know that we can achieve a lot and we’ll keep working hard. Many people didn’t expect us to win today but we proved them wrong.”
In three other quarterfinal matches, Germany will play Argentina, Italy faces Ukraine and England squares off against Portugal.
by Yoo Jee-ho
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