In a wild game, Luis Fabiano scored twice helping Brazil defeat the Ivory Coast 3-1, securing a spot in the Round of 16.
The game began at a sloppy pace as neither team could establish possession long enough to go on the offensive. After trading the ball Brazil finally made its move in the 25th minute, as Robinho found Kaká at the edge of the box and he slipped a pass between two defenders finding Fabiano all alone at a sharp angle rifling a shot past the keeper’s right shoulder into the net for his first ever World Cup goal.
For the remainder of the first half the Brazilian defence was on full display as they controlled the pace efficiently and allowed the Elephants no opportunities to create scoring chances. This was possibly due to the Ivorians choice of alignment, as they resorted to a 5-5-1 as opposed to their more characteristic 4-4-2 which allows for more attacking.
Though leading 1-0 at the half , Brazil still didn’t look to be in complete command of the game as they made uncharacteristic mistakes and weren’t playing with the flash and flare associated with Brazilian football.
The second half would prove to be much different.
Within the first five minutes of the second half the brilliance that is expected of Brazil would be on full display. A glorious goal came from Fabiano creating his own opportunity off of a long ball that he lifted over a defender, twice, before sending a shot off the keepers hand into the goal for his second score of the match. However, the goal came with a bit of controversy as the replay showed he controlled the ball with his arm before shooting.
Never the less it stood and the deficit grew for Cote d’Ivoire, 2-0.
Seeing their hopes slipping away the Ivorians nearly cut the lead in half as a cross sent towards captain, Didier Drogba, was headed nicely toward the far post but inched just wide of the mark.
Seemingly having the match all but won the Brazilians continued their onslaught in the 74th minute as Kaká once again managed to find a seam in the defence coming in from the wing, sending a cross into the box and finding Elano unmarked for an easy touch. It was the first time this World Cup that a player had two assists in a single game.
With all hope lost the Elephants produced their best play of the match in response to the goal heading into the 80th minute.
After a nice defensive effort, young Gervinho carried the ball nearly the length of the field before being met by a group of defenders only he smartly turned the ball around looking for an open teammate finding Yaya Toure. The Brazilian defence that had been stellar all night fell asleep allowing Drogba to slip behind a defender while Toure sent a high lob into the box for the captain to tuck a header by the far post.
Despite the goal it was too little too late for the African hopefuls and for the remainder of the match it was far from the beautiful game.
A number of physical challenges led to a pair of yellow cards, one on Kaká , but what would take a bizarre turn was the ensuing play. In what first appeared to be a melee caused by a Kaká foul would be seen on replay to actually be a dive by the Ivory Coast defender. Whatever the case Kaká was sent off after receiving a second yellow card and will have to miss the next match.
In the end, Fabiano claimed Man of the Match honours and Brazil would take a well deserved 3-1 decision over an Ivory Coast team that will now have their work cut out for them going forward.
Though the win comes as a relief for Brazil as they capture yet another trip to the Round of 16 it comes at a loss as they will not have the services of their star Kaká. They face Portugal on June 25th to close out the group stage and will be a match the Elephants will be watching closely.
Depending on the result of Portugal’s match against Korea DPR, the Ivorians could be in tough in trying to advance. They’ll have to look for their first win of this World Cup against Korea DPR on June 25th and hope their opponents from today can help their chances.