Bebeto restores some pride for Brazil

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The Independent Online
It was not the colour that Brazil demanded but at least the country won a bronze medal to regain some of its battered pride with a 5-0 rout of Portugal. Three second-half goals by the old favourite Bebeto killed off any Portuguese hopes of a comeback after Ronaldinho and Flavio Conceicao had scored inside the first 10 minutes.

"We came here to try for the gold, that was our objective. It is an honour to win a bronze medal, but it is not what we were here for," Bebeto said.

While Brazil started with the same 11 who lost to Nigeria in the semi- final, Portugal made six changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Argentina. In a typical bronze-medal game with little passion, Brazil showed early on that they were taking the match much more seriously.

With only five minutes gone, Middlesbrough's Juninho sent a superb through- ball to Ronaldinho who burst through space to shoot past the Portuguese goalkeeper, Costinha.

Five minutes later, another example of the perfect Brazilian passing produced the second goal. Bebeto's ball beat two defenders and Ze Maria charged on the right flank to send a pinpoint pass across the goalmouth for Flavio Conceicao, who directed it home from short range.

Portugal threatened in the 27th minute, when Dani robbed Aldair and made a promising run on the left, lifting a cross into the area. Capucho's header bounced off the ground and the Brazilian goalkeeper, Dida, had to use his fingertips to turn the ball aside. A series of Portuguese corners failed to yield another chance.

Two minutes into the second half, Bebeto showed why he was a star on the Brazilian team that won the 1994 World Cup. Although he failed to control a long pass from Amaral, he was quick to exploit the mistake of Ruibento when the Portuguese defender let the ball slip away. Bebeto shot it through the legs of Costinha. In the 54th minute, Bebeto converted a penalty to put Brazil into a four-goal lead. Portugal got their own penalty in the 62nd minute, but Dida saved Rui Jorge's effort.

With Portugal offering little resistance, Brazil began displaying the full range of their talents. With 15 minutes left, Bebeto scored his third when he pounced on a slow back pass from Nuno Afonso that Costinha could not control.