Group F
Brazil 2-0 Australia

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Two second half goals were enough to secure the points for Brazil after an entertaining Group F encounter against Australia.

The 2-0 victory flattered the Brazilian side somewhat and there was sympathy for Australia who had matched their opponents for most of the game. However, it was the clinical finishing of the holders that ultimately separated the two sides.

Brazil were unchanged from their opening game with all eyes on Ronaldo after his disappointing performance against Australia.

Guus Hiddink made three changes from the side that left it late to overcome Japan, with Tim Cahill, Tony Popovic and Mile Sterjovski coming in for Marco Bresciano, Harry Kewell and Luke Wilkshire.

Kaka had the first chance of the match when he was set up by Ronaldo but the Milan midfielder fired his volley just wide. However, Australia had not turned up to sit back and admire the world champions and Viduka wasted no time in testing Dida from distance.

Ronaldo was in the wars early on, the victim of a spiteful challenge from Grella. From the resulting free-kick, Robert Carlos, whose reputation as a free-kick specialist continues to baffle, produced yet another disappointing effort and the ball sailed into the crowd.

Although Brazil enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the early stages, they were unable to carve out any clear cut chances and Australia grew in confidence as the half progressed.

The crowd were also treated to their rare sight of Ronaldinho falling over the ball, an incident that brought jeers from the Australians in the ground.

With half-time approaching Australia began to look the better team. Although they didn’t possess the individual talents of their illustrious opponents the work rate and organisation of Guus Hiddink’s team were a match for the Brazilians.

Brazil only had to wait three minutes after the interval to break the deadlock. The ball was fed to Ronaldo who slid a pass to his strike partner Adriano on the edge of the penalty area and the Inter man took one touch before placing a shot through the legs of Chipperfield and past Schwarzer.

A goal down, Australia would now have to be more ambitious in their play if they wanted to get anything out of the game. However, the goal seemed to inspire the Brazilians and any thought of an equaliser appeared immaterial as the South Americans went in search of a second.

Hiddink introduced Harry Kewell for Cahill and his first act was to squander a wonderful opportunity to equalise. Dida, under pressure from Viduka, dropped the ball into the path of the substitute, but blazed over the bar when it looked easier to score.

Despite that miss Kewell was posing a threat on the left and he almost made amends with a long-range effort which dipped just over the bar.

There was no question of Hiddink settling for a respectable defeat and he introduced John Aloisi midway through the second half at the expense of a defender. Parreira responded by stiffening up his midfield with the introduction of Silva and adding zest to his attack by bringing on Robinho for Ronaldo.

As Australia pressed forward in search of an equaliser they left themselves exposed to the counter-attack and with Robinho enjoying much more freedom than the man he had replaced, Brazil began to carve open their opponents almost at will.

Bresciano came close to an equaliser when he volleyed a loose ball towards goal but Dida produced an acrobatic one-handed save. At the other end Kaka stole a yard on his marker to flick a header against the bar.

Perhaps the closest Australia came to an equaliser was when Aloisi headed on for Viduka and the striker’s chip cleared the onrushing Dida but the ball nestled on the roof of the net.

Despite their efforts Australia’s hopes were finally extinguished in the final minute when Robinho’s shot came back off the post into the path of Fred who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the empty net.

Brazil, without being at their best, were worthy winners of an absorbing contest. They looked a much more vibrant outfit following the introduction of Robinho and there must be doubts about the continued involvement of Ronaldo after yet another disappointing display.

Australia can hold their heads up high after a battling performance. Moreover, with Croatia to play they must fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages, which before the tournament began, was their principal ambition.

Brazil: Dida, Cafu, Lucio, Juan, Roberto Carlos, Kaka, Emerson, Ze Roberto, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano.
Subs: Cicinho, Cris, Fred, Gilberto, Julio Cesar, Juninho, Luisao, Mineiro, Ricardinho, Robinho, Rogerio, Silva.

Subs used: Silva 72 (for Emerson), Robinho (for Ronaldo), Fred 88 (for Adriano).

Bookings: Cafu 29, Ronaldo 31, Robinho 83.

Australia: Schwarzer, Moore, Popovic, Neill, Chipperfield, Emerton, Grella, Sterjovski, Cahill, Culina, Viduka.

Subs used: Bresciano 40 (for Popovic), Kewell 56 (for Cahill), Aloisi 69 (for Moore).

Bookings: Emerton 13, Culina 39.

Referee: Markus Merk (Germany).

Brazil: Adriano 49, Fred 90.

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