| Adriano, who got Brazil’s campaign back on track, reacts after scoring against the US during their Confederations Cup match in Lyon Saturday. (Reuters)
Lyon: Adriano got Brazil’s Confederations Cup campaign back on track when he guided them to a 1-0 win over the US in a group match B Saturday.
The striker’s 22nd-minute goal after a defensive lapse by the Americans means the world champions, surprise losers to Cameroon in their opener, can reach the semi-finals by beating Turkey in their last group game Monday.
Brazil’s narrow victory, after a fine display from US goalkeeper Tim Howard, put Cameroon, who earlier beat Turkey 1-0 in Paris (as reported briefly in Sunday’s Late City edition), in the last four.
The US, eliminated from the eight-nation tournament with this defeat after losing 1-2 to Turkey in their first game, play Cameroon in their final match, also on Monday.
As in their previous game, the US anthem was booed and whistled by the French crowd before kick-off, and their players sporadically came in for the same treatment during the game. The response from the crowd follows widespread popular opposition in France to the US-led war in Iraq.
Brazil clearly needed — and deserved — their win at the Stade Gerland but they may live to regret not adding a second goal that would have left them wanting only a draw against the Turks.
While Brazil have scored one and conceded one, Senol Gunes’ Turkey have netted two and let in two, the extra goal scored meaning Brazil will have to attack at St Etienne.
Brazil dominated possession Saturday and playmaker Ronaldinho provided plenty of openings, but a combination of mediocre finishing and excellent goalkeeping kept the scoreline respectable for the US.
The South Americans made a bright start with Adriano firing narrowly wide with an early chance after a neat back-heel and spin past defender Gregg Berhalter.
But he made no mistake after robbing the luckless Berhalter of possession. Adriano’s first effort was parried by Howard’s legs but his follow-up hook shot left the ’keeper with no chance.
Brazil kept all the possession and Ronaldinho conjured up a chance that Ricardinho should have converted, but he scuffed his shot in front of Howard.
The US, surprise World Cup quarter finalists, were unable to strike at the Brazilian goal until the 43rd minute when a Clint Mathis free-kick sailed wide.
However, there were vain appeals for a penalty after Kleberson clattered into Landon Donovan as the US playmaker prepared to volley skipper Earnie Stewart’s cross from close range.
Brazil came out looking for a second goal after the break and Howard did well to hold a sharp header from Adriano and get just enough of a touch on Alex’s low drive to turn it round for a corner.
All the chances were falling to the Brazilians and, although Dida needed to get down quickly to deny Donovan’s angled effort, the Americans were constrained to defending Howard’s goal and looking to their opponents on the break.
Brazil did enough to get their points, but will probably have to move up a gear to beat World Cup semi-finalists Turkey Monday.