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Four-time champion Brazil were rescued by a late penalty as they pulled out a come-from-behind victory against Turkey in Ulsan, Korea. In one of the most thrilling and wild games of the tournament so far, the South Americans had to fight till the end to overcome a game Turkish side in breathtaking fashion.

The Turks had taken a late first half lead through Hakan Sas, who was impressive on the ball throughout the match, but a world-class Ronaldo strike just after the break evened the score. Brazil dominated the Group C match in terms of dangerous chances, but it seemed they would have to settle for a point until Alpay Ozalan pulled Luizao down. Rivaldo converted the penalty kick, and two Turks were sent off in a dramatic finale to a memorable match.

Brazil began the match looking every bit what the world has come to expect from the four-times world champions, moving the ball around the pitch with confidence and class. Worries about marking in midfield in the absence of Emerson eased somewhat with his replacement in the line-up, Gilberto Silva, breaking up Turkish counter-attacks with his physical marking.

Brazil almost had the first goal shortly after kick-off when Turkey goalkeeper Recber Rustu left his area along the right-side by-line and sent a clearance right to Ronaldinho, who shot high and wide of the empty net from 35 metres (7’).

The Brazilians had a scare when a hopeful shot by Tugay Kerimoglu took a sharp deflection off of Silva and skimmed just over the crossbar (20’).

Juninho Paulista, who was Brazil’s best creator up the middle of the pitch in the first half, missed by only centimetres after some beautiful build up. It started with a cross from the right to Rivaldo, who headed down for Ronaldo, who in turn laid it back to Juninho Paulista for a 20-metre blast that went just wide of the left post (29’).

Recber made a great reflex save to deny Brazil’s best chance of the half. Ronaldo beat a defender on the left side and served a perfect ball into the box for Rivaldo, but his downward header was stopped impressively with a stab of Rostu’s right hand (40’).

Turkey took the lead against the run of play with the half about to expire when Yildiray Basturk picked out Hasan Sas behind the Brazilian defence, and the striker slammed the ball into the back of the net with a sweet left-foot volley from the right corner of the goal area (0:1, 47’+).

As the second half got underway, it seemed for a moment that Brazil were a cursed team, as they could not score even with Ronaldo in free on goal (50’), but the twice FIFA World Footballer of the Year made up for it seconds later, when Rivaldo served a cross from the right side and Ronaldo scored from six metres with a beautiful lunging volley (1:1, 50’). Brazil and Ronaldo picked up the pressure even more after the goal, seemingly heartened by the knowledge that they could in fact put the ball into the net. But Rustu was magnificent, saving a shot from Ronaldo (55’), then stopping Lucio’s stab at a loose ball in front of goal (60’), and then denying Juninho Paulista’s rocket from 15 metres (62’).

Led by Rustu’s heroics, Turkey absorbed the pressure, and the run of play began to even out. But when Turkey seemed to force the South Americans to settle for a draw, Rustu finally made a mistake. He struck a clearance right at Luizao, who had come on for Ronaldo. Luizao ran right at goal, and Alpay Ozalan pulled down the Gremio man from behind.

Ozalan, who had already been booked earlier in the match, was sent off. The referee, Mr. Kim Young-Joo, judged that Luizao fell in the area and awarded Brazil a penalty kick, which Rivaldo buried into the lower-right corner (2:1, 87’). The Turks, who had battled hard throughout the match, were unlucky to walk away with just nine men and no point.


La Cancha Soccer Magazine
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