The Brazilians have guaranteed themselves advancement past the group stage at the 2010 FIFA World Cup by defeating the Ivory Coast 3-1 Sunday afternoon. They are the first team in the “group of death” to assure their place in the knockout stages.
Luis Fabiano provided the bulk of the offense for the Brazilians with two goals, and Elano added a third in the rout of the Ivory Coast. Though it seemed that Fabiano was aided by his own arm on his second goal, the referee allowed play to continue.
The Brazilians did not escape the game unscathed, as their star Kaka received his second yellow card minutes after his first when he and Ivorian player Kader Keita ran into each other. Keita collapsed with his face in his hands, coaxing the second yellow from referee Stephane Lannoy.
It was the first goal in six matches for Fabiano on the national team, and admitted after the game that the ball did take a deflection off of his hand and arm. He justified the goal by saying the illegal touching was unintentional. He slipped past Kolo Toure to strike a pass from Kaka into the top corner of the Ivorian goal.
“It’s true, the ball really touched my hand and then my shoulder,” said an elated Fabiano. “But it was involuntary. It was one of the greatest goals I’ve scored in my career.”
Fabiano doubled the lead in the 50th minute with his acrobatics around the Ivorian penalty spot. Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson saw the ball bounce off Fabiano’s arm, and was angered when the goal was allowed.
“It shouldn’t have been allowed. They got a goal free. That’s a 2-nil goal — that changed everything,” said Eriksson “It’s even more difficult if he’s allowed to use his hands. Of course it’s a hand ball. It’s not once, it’s twice.”
Didier Drogba provided the lone goal for the African team that has only one point out of two matches. It came in the 79th minute when he netted a header off a chipped pass from midfield. He made the start after missing the first half of their first game with a broken arm.
“I think Brazil can go all the way,” Eriksson said. “To beat Brazil you must be almost perfect.”
Soccer sportsbooks have set the Brazilians as the favorites in their next match against Portugal at +125. Portugal’s underdog line is set at +240, and the over/under for total goals scored by both teams is 2 1/2.