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Thursday, June 09, 2005 

Argentina 3-1 Brazil (WCQ)

The lambskin was whipped off to reveal a hungry wolf as Argentina shrugged off predictions of a Nike ad exec’s wet dream win by a Ronaldinho Gaúcho-inspired Seleção in the very heartland of their southern rivals. Argentina gave a recital of good taste in front of a bumbling Brazil that self-destructed in under half an hour, leaving the hosts celebrating as if the World Cup itself had been won.

Hernan Crespo got things off to an early start, aided and abetted by a creaky fellow Rossoneri Cafú that left the Argentinean number 9 onside to receive Riquelme’s neatly-threaded pass and leave Dida groping as the locals went wild with the fourth minute goal. Cafú added to Parreira’s worries by picking up a yellow card after a late challenge on Lucho. As the terraces begin a series of ‘Olé’s’ nerves chafed and Kily picked a fight with choirboy Kaká.

The slippery pitch in the Monumental de Nuñez stadium sent a few players skidding wide of what could have been good chances; most of them local players. Riquelme continued surfing the wave that’s taking him back to Bianchi at Atlético Madrid, dribbling the appalling Roque Junior and blasting past a slow-mo Dida to ripple the top-left corner of the Brazilian net (18 min.) 2-0. Robinho tries to strike back but the inefficiency of the Canarinho attacks is the diametric opposite of the Albiceleste effectiveness.

Brazil tried to get back at the half hour mark, although their attacking moves lacked that final precision pass or crucial dribble that would have been able to split the tight Argentinean formation open. After several parried attacks alternating between both sides Milan’s Crespo got his seventh goal of the WCQ with a precise 39th minute header after a Saviola cross was left unmolested by the horrific Roque Junior. The embarrassment raises tempers as Ronaldinho risks red, but gets yellow after slapping a time-wasting Sorín in a fit of pique.

The second half saw Brazil evening things up; partly through a tardy realisation that they’d really buggered things up and were looking like world-class idiots, partly as the Argentineans put the brake on in an attempt to chill the game out until the final whistle gave them their win. Nevertheless it was Saviola who came close, Dida pulling off a redeeming save at close range. Roberto Carlos’ wounded pride stung him into action, his 71st minute rocket going past the local keeper after Mascherano upended Robinho’s substitute Renato. 3-1to a romping Albiceleste.

Adriano had the comeback within his grasp in the 39th minute, but he whacks wide a long cross to the Argentine far post with a virtual open goal in front. Roque Junior made up for some of his gaffes by saving a Riquelme free kick over the goal line, and a largely inoperative Ronaldinho Gaúcho forced the local goalie to make a decisive save at the base of his right post. The hosts played out the remaining injury time to seal a revenge 3-1 (Brazil having beaten the Albiceleste by the same score in the first WCQ clash in Brazil).

Carlos Alberto Parreira left the field accompanied by all the Brazilian players except Roberto Carlos, the coach with the facial expression of one whose finger has gone through the toilet paper. If recent claims were true and his tactics were based on ageing English theories then it was ‘Revenge of the Belgrano’ time as Argentina sunk a Brazil that deserved no less a drubbing. The ever-communicative number 6 came out with the usual platitudes about having to do better, but at least took it on the chin instead of skulking out.

This result leaves Argentina qualified for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, a fact attested to by the medal-winning local celebrations of a Pogoing Albiceleste that gave Brazil a refreshing lesson in humility, the will to win and decent passing. Brazil will have to wait at least until the next fixture – a September date that pits them at home to Chile – to start getting flustered about Visas and passports for the finals. Ronaldo must be feeling the bitter-sweet longing of fans that waxed lyrical about his previous goals against Argentina in the face of tonight’s gummily inoffensive attack. Brazil hopes some R&R will recharge their stars to put them out of unnecessary misery and get everybody raring to go in 2006 – perhaps a re-match in Germany?

ARGENTINA: Roberto Abbondanzieri; Fabricio Coloccini, Fabián Ayala, Gabriel Heinze; Luis González (Javier Zanetti, 70') , Javier Mascherano, Juan Pablo Sorín, Cristian González; Juan Román Riquelme; Javier Saviola (Carlos Tevez, 78'), Hernán Crespo.

BRAZIL: Dida; Cafú, Juan, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos; Emerson, Ze Roberto, Kaká; Ronaldinho; Robinho (Renato, 61'), Adriano.

GOALS: 1-0, Crespo (4'); 2-0, Riquelme, (18'); 3-0, Crespo (39'); 3-1, Roberto Carlos (26')

Source: goal.com

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