| Rivaldo scores his team’s first goal from the spot against Peru in their South American World Cup qualifier at the Monumental Stadium in Lima on Sunday. (Reuters)
Lima: Little Peru put behind them their mounting financial problems to battle back for a 1-1 draw against world champions Brazil in their 2006 World Cup qualifier in front of 80,000 passionate fans here on Sunday.
Newcastle United’s Nolberto Solano headed a spectacular second half equaliser after Rivaldo had given Brazil the lead with a first half penalty.
The result meant Brazil lost their one hundred percent record in the South American qualifying group and are now in second spot behind Argentina on goal difference.
Brazil were missing Ronaldinho while Ronaldo lacked service in the first half but the absence of the injured Roberto Carlos meant they lacked composure at the back which Peru took advantage of for large parts of the match. Peru went into the game on the back of a strike by home-based players who had protested over non-payments.
It was Brazil who opened the scoring when Rivaldo, out of favour at AC Milan and desperately trying to impress prospective new clubs, converted a 20th minute penalty. He had been chopped down in the area by Marko Ciurlizza and then coolly picked himself to score from the spot past the desperate dive of goalkeeper Oscar Ibanez.
The veteran’s AC Milan teammate Kaka, making his first full appearance, then had a snapshot saved by the keeper while, at the other end, Brazilian goalkeeper Dida completely misjudged a cross but Peru skipper Claudio Pizarro couldn’t take advantage.
Pizarro, who plays his club football with Bayern Munich, then had Peru’s best chance of the half when he cut inside Lucio in the 34th minute but shot just over.
Rivaldo was determined to make his mark and was denied a second goal when he unleashed a left foot volley from a cross by skipper Cafu but watched his drive come back off the crossbar.
He showed his close control skills again five minutes into the second half when he slipped past a defender on the edge of the box but his low left-foot shot was gathered by Ibanez.
To their credit Peru, who came into this match with one win and one defeat from their first two qualifiers, continued to press a far from watertight Brazil defence and Solano almost broke through with a downward header
But in the 58th minute, they were level when a left-wing cross from Guillermo Salas was met by the unmarked Solano whose flying header found the top corner of the Dida’s goal.
The goal was greeted by a mini-invasion of press photographers who had to be cleared from the pitch by police and soldiers as the locals sensed the chance of a first win over their South American rivals on home soil in 50 years. But Brazil continued to attack. Rivaldo was again denied by a save from Ibanez in the 68th minute as he smothered another low left foot drive.
Ronaldo sprang to life in the 70th minute when he timed his run to perfection to latch onto a pass from Kaka to find the back of the net at the second attempt.
However, the Real Madrid superstar was unlucky to have his attempt ruled out for offside.
“I’m very happy to have played, my last game was against Jamaica on October 12,” he told Brazilian television from Lima. “I’m ready for the next game on Wednesday.”
“Everyone thinks it’s easy to come here and play Peru but that’s not the case. We had a lot of chances in the first half and if we had scored maybe it would have been different.”
“We created more chances,” said Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. “We could have scored three in the first half. But we needed to keep possession more in midfield.”
“Peru had two chances, we had six. They caused us problems with their high crosses. We gave away a lot of passes but we finished the game in their half.”