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Brazil and Paraguay Win at World Cup, New Zealand Draws with Defending Champion Italy

  • Sonny Young

In World Cup football action on Sunday, five-time champion Brazil beat Ivory Coast 3-1 to clinch a berth in the knockout phase of the soccer extravaganza in South Africa.

"The Samba Boys" from Brazil maintained their perfect record against African opponents in World Cup competition. The Brazilians have now won all six of their matches against African teams in the history of the tournament.

Striker Luis Fabiano had two goals for Brazil and was named Man of the Match. Midfielder Elano added the third in the 62nd minute.

Fabiano's first goal came in the 25th minute. It was a powerful right-footed shot fired into the top of the net. Fabiano's second goal, in the 50th minute, was one of the best so far in this month-long tournament. He beat two Ivorian defenders, then hit a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba had a consolation goal in the 79th minute, off a header. In the match's closing minutes, scuffles broke out among the Brazilian and Ivorian players. Brazilian star Kaka, who set up two of his team's goals, was ejected with two yellow cards. That means he will miss Brazil's last group match against Portugal on June 25.

The Swedish coach for Ivory Coast, Sven-Goran Eriksson, says it is very difficult to come back against a powerful team like Brazil. "They scored early and went up two-nil, and that changed a lot of goals to chance. It opened up the third goal for them. But anyhow, congratulations to Brazil; they are strong. And if you do a mistake against them, they are very quick to punish you," he said.

A crowd of more than 84,000 people attended the match here at Soccer City Stadium. Brazil now has the maximum six points from two matches in Group G. Ivory Coast has one point from two matches. Portugal will play North Korea in the next Group G game on Monday in Cape Town, South Africa. The Portuguese have one point from one match, while the North Koreans have no points.

In Sunday's earlier World Cup matches, Paraguay defeated Slovakia, 2-0, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, while underdog New Zealand held reigning World Cup champion Italy to a 1-1 draw in Nelspruit, South Africa.

Enrique Vera and Cristian Riveros had the goals for Paraguay, which now tops Group F with four points from two matches. New Zealand took an early one-nothing lead over Italy on a goal by Shane Smeltz in the seventh minute. Vincenzo Iaquinta equalized for the Italians on a penalty shot in the 29th minute. The draw is being described as the biggest moment in New Zealand football history. Italy is ranked 74 places higher than New Zealand in the FIFA world rankings. Italy and New Zealand are tied with two points in Group F, with Slovakia at the bottom with one point.

After three first round matches, the top two teams in each of the eight World Cup groups will advance to the knockout Round of 16, which begins June 26.