Kicking it up a notch
Brazil rips Chile to reach quarters
JOHANNESBURG — As Brazil was dismantling Chile, a couple of fans delighted the crowd by parading around the stadium with two giant gold replicas of the World Cup trophy.
Another three games like this and Brazil could be hoisting the real thing — yet again.
With an impressive mixture of symphony-like teamwork and standout individual plays, Brazil routed South American rival Chile, 3-0, yesterday to advance to the quarterfinals. On Friday, the five-time champions will face the Netherlands, which earlier yesterday defeated Slovakia, 2-1.
“Now it’s a match between two traditional teams with great players,’’ Brazil captain Lucio said. “Now the matches will get harder and harder.’’
Brazil’s players were almost nonchalant after the victory as they shook hands and exchanged hugs. Who can blame them: reaching the later stages may as well be part of Brazil’s World Cup itinerary.
Brazil has now reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup every time since the 1990 tournament in Italy, when it fell, 1-0, to Diego Maradona’s Argentina in the second round. Brazil coach Dunga and assistant coach Jorginho were starters for that Brazilian team.
The Brazilians won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups in that span.
“It was a very good performance for Brazil,’’ playmaker Kaka said. “I’m happy with how we played. It shows that we are improving after each match, just as planned.’’
Chile hasn’t beaten Brazil in a decade and didn’t come close, freeing the folks in the stands to do the samba and the singing as the Brazilians moved closer to holding the real prize.
“When our opponent attacks like that, Brazil always creates a lot of chances,’’ Luis Fabiano said. “That was exactly what happened today and we took advantage of that.’’
Juan opened the scoring in the 35th minute at Ellis Park Stadium with a firm header from near the penalty spot off a corner kick.
Luis Fabiano added to the lead in the 38th, receiving a one-touch pass from Kaka and dribbling past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo inside the area before hitting the open net.
Robinho scored his first goal in the tournament with a shot from the top of the area in the 59th minute, a one-timer into the far corner. It was Robinho’s seventh goal in Brazil’s last six matches against the Chileans.
Chile is the first South American team eliminated. Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are in the final eight, and Paraguay plays Japan today.
“We leave the tournament knowing that we gave everything on the pitch,’’ Bravo said. “We are a very fragile team at times. We attack very well, but we have to know when to defend.’’
The victory in front of nearly 55,000 fans at Ellis Park extended Brazil’s dominance over Chile.
It was the eighth consecutive win; the last loss to Chile was 3-0 in a 2000 qualifier for the 2002 World Cup.
Brazil again was without regular Elano because of a right ankle injury. Chile was without several starters, including central defenders Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce because of yellow card suspensions, while Marco Estrada was suspended for being ejected against Spain.