Brazil 3 Ghana 0: Ghana's brave run broken by Brazilians

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The Independent Online

Off the pitch Ghana's fans, a growing legion as the World Cup has progressed, at times showed the Brazilians how to party. On it their team, at times, showed them how to play.

But it was not to be. Goals at the start and end of the first-half from Brazil's heavyweight strikers and a late third by midfielder Ze Roberto cut through the heart of Ghana's defence and cut away their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals in their first participation in this competition.

The West Africans ended up complaining bitterly about the referee Lubos Michel, who awarded them a host of yellow cards and a red and little else, with their coach Ratomir Dujkovic banished to the stands for his first-half protests. What had he said to the referee? "It would be better for us if you put on a yellow jersey," the acerbic Serb answered before adding of Brazil: "They are unbeatable and untouchable".

Accusations of bias were cheap and Brazil's Carlos Alberto Parreira was dismissive, accusing Dujkovic of playing "a losers' crying game".

Parreira was, however, full of praise for the Black Stars and was also forced into a defence of his own team ­ and his tactics.

"History does not talk about the beautiful game," Parreira said in a comment that some may regard as sacrilege for the selecao. "It talks about champions. Why do we have to play beautiful football and winners don't? We like the beautiful game, but more than that we want to be champions. We have five World Cups and we want the sixth."

There is a continuing unease prowling Brazil and Parreira did little to dispel it by defying critics and ­ with Robinho injured ­ restoring the so-called "Magic Quartet". It paid an early dividend with Ronaldo's fifth-minute goal and Adriano was similarly set free only to fluff his lines and earn a booking for a desperate dive.

He did score. But only in the most controversial circumstances as he was clearly offside when he struck home Cafu's deflected cross with his knee. Before that and Ghana had been pricked into action. They clearly lacked the suspended Michael Essien ­ Dujkovic said he had tried to deploy two players to replace the suspended Chelsea midfielder and both had failed ­ but once Haminu Draman tried his luck from distance Ghana decided to run at Brazil.

The impressive if erratic Asamoah Gyan showed strength and determination to shrug off Lucio and Emerson but, as he fell, his shot flew over. Then, from a corner, John Mensah was afforded an unmarked header. He made contact but struck the ball straight at Dida's feet. "A miracle save," Parreira said.

His reaction was clear. "We made a lot of mistakes, gave the ball away and confused things," he said. "There is a difference between speed and being in a hurry and we made mistakes. We tried to hurry the ball."

So Parreira abandoned his formation and settled on something far more effective. Suddenly Ronaldinho was involved, releasing Roberto Carlos whose shot was saved, but Ghana missed with another free header, from John Pantsil. Captain Stephen Appiah barrelled forward and found Gyan whose curling shot was spilt by Dida, only for the goalkeeper to recover before Matthew Amoah reached the rebound.

Ghana were then reduced to 10 men when Gyan threw himself to the turf looking for a penalty. The game was up. Ze Roberto ran free, and clipped the ball around the goalkeeper for his first World Cup goal. Three one-on-ones were then blocked. First from Cafu, then Ronaldo, then Juan

"I congratulate the fibre of my team," Parreira said while also hoping that Ronaldinho "can make a slight improvement" and praising Ronaldo for his refound "confidence". The competition is now down to the "big guns", he said. Brazil remain a threat.

On top of the world

All-time leading scorers at World Cup finals:

Ronaldo (Brazil) 15

Gerd Müller (Ger) 14

Juste Fontaine (Fr) 13

Pele (Brazil) 12

Sandor Kocsis (Hun) 11

Jürgen Klinsmann (Ger) 11

Helmut Rahn (Ger) 10

Teofilo Cubillas (Per) 10

Gary Lineker (Eng) 10

Grzegorz Lato (Pol) 10

Gabriel Batistuta (Arg) 10