Brazil booked their place in the Round of 16 with a game to spare after a convincing 3-1 victory over Côte d’Ivoire at Soccer City.
Two goals from Luis Fabiano and a third by Elano secured the second victory for Dunga’s side in South Africa – a result that guaranteed them one of the top two places in Group G even before Portugal's meeting with Korea DPR on Monday. It was not all good news for the South Americans, though, who finished the game with ten men after Kaka received a late red card after a clash with Kader Keita. It was Kaka’s second yellow card and came after the Brazilian appeared to dig an elbow into the chest of Keita, who went down clutching his face.
For Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Elephants, this was a sobering evening despite Didier Drogba’s late headed reply. Although Drogba was fit to start his first game of this FIFA World Cup™ – Gervinho the man to make way – Côte d’Ivoire did not trouble Brazil's back line until it was too late and they will now go into their final group game against the Koreans on Friday with just one point to their name.
This much-anticipated meeting of the five-time world champions and Drogba's Elephants – seen by some as potentially Africa's biggest hope before the finals – began with a shooting opportunity for the Seleção inside the first 60 seconds as Robinho broke forward. But, ignoring the yellow shirts on either side of him, he flashed a shot over the crossbar from outside the box.
Robinho had a hand in the opening goal after 25 minutes, some lovely interplay between him, Kaka and Luis Fabiano preceding Kaka's through-ball to the No9 which left him clear to lash a spectacular shot high inside the near post. The Elephants had managed only one shot on target in their goalless draw with Portugal and it took them 38 minutes before Aruna Dindane tried his luck from distance, driving a shot straight at Julio Cesar.
Within five minutes of the restart, Brazil had their second goal as Luis Fabiano struck again. After lifting the ball over Didier Zokora on the edge of the box, he worked his way past two more defenders, controlling a bouncing ball before firing in a low shot that Boubacar Barry got a hand to on its way in. The Ivorians came close to a response soon after only for Drogba to steer a header wide of Julio Cesar’s left-hand post after rising between Maicon and Lucio to meet Dindane’s centre from the right. That would be Dindane's final contribution as he made way for Gervinho, yet the force remained with Brazil.
Kaka had a shot beaten away by Barry in the 61st minute but within 60 seconds he had created the third goal for Elano. The Real Madrid playmaker broke down the left and running at Kolo Toure, found the space to drill in a low cross that Elano turned home for his second goal of the finals. Sadly for Elano that was his final contribution as, soon after, he took a kick on the shin from Ismael Tiote and left the field on a stretcher.
Julio Cesar was finally called into meaningful action when Ivorian substitute Romaric drove in a low shot that the Brazil custodian got down low to block. Eleven minutes from time, however, Drogba did restore a measure of pride for the Elephants when, following Gervinho's lung-bursting forward run, the substitute laid the ball back to Yaya Toure whose precise cross was nodded home by the Chelsea striker. That was the end of the scoring, although for Kaka, the night did not end as he would have wished as tempers flared in the closing minutes.