Football: Brazil reach final without honour

THE DEFENDING champions, Brazil, beat Mexico 2-0 here on Wednesday to reach the Copa America final with a mechanical performance which betrayed their reputation for flair and had nothing to do with Pele's so-called "beautiful game."

Brazil scored twice in the first half of the semi-final, concentrated most of their efforts on stopping opponents from creating and, on a sad day for football, played the last 10 minutes with only one recognised striker.

As in their quarter-final win over Argentina, the Brazilians depended on a couple of isolated moments of inspiration to settle the match, Amoroso and Rivaldo scoring the goals as they finished well-constructed moves. Otherwise, they packed their midfield and did not hesitate to break the rules to stop their opponents. The destructive Brazilians committed 19 fouls, nearly twice as many as the Mexicans.

Brazil have reached their third successive Copa final and will meet Uruguay in Asuncion on Sunday, hoping to avenge their 1995 penalty shoot-out defeat to the same team. "We came here to win the competition and we've reached the final," said their defiant coach, Wanderley Luxemburgo.