A magical moment from Ronaldo and luck combined together to hand Brazil their fourth consecutive quarter-final berth, as the world champions emerged 3-0 winners over World Cup debutants Ghana on Tuesday. Adriano scored from a seemingly off-side position in the first-half stoppage time and Ze Roberto added another in a breakaway move six minutes from time, but the scoreline was hugely misleading.
Ronaldo surpassed Gerd Mueller to become the tournamentís all-time leading scorer with 15 goals, but that sublime moment in the fifth minute could not make a hole in the West Africansí fighting spirit. Ghana simply didnít deserve to lose by such a margin.
In analysing the game, I would like to point to two contrasting features which turned out to be decisive in the end.
The world champions didnít win the match on the strength of their unity, rather some exceptional individual brilliance provided them the breakthroughs at crucial times.
Kaka delivered the through with such a precision that Ronaldo, having pounced on the ball, was in the clear. His two step-overs were too much for the Ghana goalkeeper to read his mind and the goal was sheer class that only Ronaldo possesses.
Undaunted by the setback, the West Africans started giving a good account of themselves with pace and power, and after 20 minutes, I was wondering if Brazil and Ghana had swapped their shirts.
Strikers Matthew Amoah and Asamoah Gyan failed to capitalise on half-chances and, then three minutes from the break, Dida just about managed to protect the lead, blocking John Mensahís header off a corner from point-blank distance.
Call it providence or fate, it always happens in football that when you miss a sitter, your own citadel soon wakes up to a fresh attack. Thatís exactly happened to the debutants when Kaka delivered another through for Cafu on the right.
The Brazil right-back moved up further and squared the ball across the face of the goal. Adriano ' who was apparently in an off-side position ' slid it in.
Adriano should have been held responsible for playing selfish when he was booked for diving to try and win a penalty, instead of leaving the ball for Ronaldo to finish.
Ghana clearly played better football in the second-half too, but their forwards seemed to have left the shooting boots back home. In one sweeping move after another, they reached the box with utter ease, but after that lost the plot in the penetration zone.
They lacked precision in shooting and on rare occasions, when shots were actually on target, Dida proved too smart under the bar.
True Ghana played a physical match from the beginning, and even Asamoah Gyan, who had already received a yellow card, was sent off in the 81st for diving. His exit might not have proved to be costly, but the referee couldíve easily ignored the incident in that the Ghanaian striker didnít appeal for penalty. In a way, Brazil did get the run of the green.
Brazil may have won, but it was not at all Brazil-like. Their much-vaunted midfield was an utter failure. I donít know how long we will have to wait for Ronaldinho to cast his magic in the tournament.
Except for the goal, Ronaldo was also an onlooker. Adriano was rightly replaced in the second-half and Robinho, if fit, should get a berth in the next starting line-up.
May be Brazil held on against Ghanaís inexperience. The next challengers wonít be so much inexperienced. Brazil need to glow immediately.