Football: Ronaldo's genius ends Germans' unbeaten run

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Germany 1 Brazil 2

A BRILLIANT late goal from Ronaldo allowed Brazil to tame Germany 2- 1 last night in a tense but exciting friendly in Stuttgart in which each team had a man sent off.

Ronaldo was marginalised for much of the match but, with two minutes remaining, he lived up to his reputation as the international game's most dangerous striker with a run which left both the defender Christian Worns and the goalkeeper Andreas Kopke helpless.

The world champions, preparing for the defence of their title in France this summer, ended the hosts' unbeaten run of 22 matches. Germany's coach Berti Vogts, whose side had lost their last match on the same Stuttgart pitch with a 1-0 defeat to France in June 1996, failed to equal the national record of 23 matches without defeat set under Jupp Derwall from 1978 to 1981.

Brazil opened the scoring in the 27th minute, with Cesar Sampaio heading home from a corner by Roberto Carlos. Eight minutes later, Germany lost their veteran defender Jurgen Kohler, who received his marching orders for a vicious tackle on Cafu. It was by no means the first bad foul in what was a dirty game.

In the 57th minute, it was the visitors' turn to lose a player after their captain, Dunga, was sent off for a second bookable offence. The home side levelled in the 65th minute when the substitute Ulf Kirsten took advantage of a slip by the defender Aldair to beat the goalkeeper Taffarel from close range.

Kirsten had come on at half-time to replace the captain, Jurgen Klinsmann, who made a disappointing comeback after missing the national team's last four matches due to injury.

"My team played brilliantly and gave their all,'' Vogts said. "I'm a bit angry because we lost the match through silly little mistakes. We would have deserved a draw but I believe we're heading towards the right direction.''

His Brazilian counterpart, Mario Zagallo, had expected a reaction from his players after some embarrassing setbacks in the Concacaf Gold Cup in the United States last month. "This was a great friendly, a taste of things to come at the World Cup,'' he said. "It could have been a 1-1 draw or even a 2-1 victory for Germany. We must thank Ronaldo, who showed just how fast and clever he is.''

GERMANY: Kopke (Marseilles); Thon (Schalke 04), Helmer (Bayern Munich), Kohler (Borussia Dortmund), Worns (Bayer Leverkusen), Heinrich (Borussia Dortmumd), Hamann (Bayern Munich), Ziege (Milan), Moller (Borussia Dortmund), Klinsmann (Tottenham), Bierhoff (Udinese). Substitutes: Kirsten (Bayer Leverkusen) for Klinsmann, h-t; Tarnat (Bayern Munich) for Ziege, 68; Babbel (Bayern Munich) for Helmer, 81.

BRAZIL: Taffarel (Atletico Mineiro); Cafu (Roma), Junior Baiano (Flamengo), Aldair (Roma), Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid), Rivaldo (Barcelona), Cesar Sampaio (Ana Sato Kogyo), Dunga (Jubilo Iwata), Denilson (Sao Paulo), Romario (Flamengo), Ronaldo (Internazionale). Substitutes: Bebeto (Botafogo) for Romario, 81; Doriva (Porto) for Denilson, 81.

Referee: D Elleray (England).