James Lawton: Farcical sending off halts Kaka just as old magic was returning

Keita ran into him, then collapsed in a broken heap. Kaka left the field with a smile composed not so much of anger but disbelief

The World Cup turned both ugly and farcical last night when one of its best players was sent off as a result of an appalling piece of gamesmanship.

Brazil’s Kaka was dismissed for two yellow cards, the second coming when the Ivory Coast substitute Abdul Keita ran into him, then collapsed in a broken heap. Kaka left the field with a smile composed not so much of anger but disbelief. The smile, though, will prove enduring because both he and his team finished the bizarre but often thrilling night with, surely a sense of reawakened destiny.

Brazil’s coach Dunga was enraged by the behaviour of Sven Goran Eriksson’s team, and appalled by Kaka’s fate, but soon enough he could afford to make a philosophical shrug. He has been accused of destroying the beauty of his nation’s football but here last night there was plenty of evidence that he could soon be saluted as a guardian of both insight and sturdy principle.

Kaka, we can be sure, will be involved significantly at some later point of this tournament. Brazil are indeed a serious team again – and Kaka showed before he left the field that he is finding again some of his old touch.

Earlier, though, there were times when the agonies of the Bernabeu appeared to have simply moved a whole continent south. But then if Real Madrid’s second most expensive signing sometimes struggled to reclaim from the razor touch and beautiful rhythm that once made him the world’s best player, you did not have to look too hard for signs that a resurrection might just be trying to happen.

The seemed a touch risible when Emmanuel Eboué swept both him and the ball away so casually the Arsenal man might have been part of a post-game clean-up gang. There were other occasions when Kaka harboured good ideas without quite producing the means to put them into practice; times when, essentially, he had to pick himself up off the ground and try to make something work.

All the time you had the idea that he was, of all the Brazilians, most vulnerable to the strength of the team who, with Didier Drogba occasionally stirring himself into moments of heightened interest, might just prove to be Africa’s most serious challengers. In both cases, it was an illusion.

Kaka may still be a somewhat frail at the moment, and some may still feel that his place in the Brazilian sunshine is destined to be short, but before the end he made two impressive statements that he may just fight his way back to some of of his old influence.

He had such flashes, fleeting in the extreme, against North Korea but last night he made both of them linger powerfully in the memory. He conjured a goal of superb impact by the striker Luis Fabiano in the 25th minute. The Ivory Coast defenders, who had run down so fiercely the Brazilian attacking forays, initially launched most showily by Robinho, were suddenly short-circuited.

They were left stranded by Kaka’s brilliant understanding of space and defensive depth and his pass went perfectly to the feet of the big man of Seville. Dunga, the World Cup-winning player who is perhaps now being scolded less intensely at home for what some claim to be his war on the nation’s finer football feelings, looked to the heavens in his pleasure this moment of sweet vindication.

In his dug-out, Eriksson could only wince at this evidence that if Brazil are some way from what they used to be they retain formidable qualities. Fabiano quickly emphasised that he is one of them with a superb run that brought him a second goal and the crushing of Eriksson’s hopes that his team could make an impact at a formative stage of the tournament.

Fabiano, no doubt, had some considerable benefit of the doubt from French referee Stephane Lannoy when he appeared to control the ball with his right arm before the match-killing strike. There was no question, though, that Dunga’s men were finding some impressive elements of style along with the mountainously serene defence of Lucio and Juan.

Kaka’s confidence was growing noticeably and so, inevitably, was his appetite for the ball. His passing was becoming increasingly acute as the Ivory Coast began to be stretched by the quickening rhythm of the Brazilian game. Dunga’s face was losing all signs of the tension he first brought to the touchline. He looked like a man who was beginning to enjoy his work, most exultantly when Kaka went round the back of defence and crossed perfectly for Elano to score the third goal.

By now Dunga’s satisfaction was most at risk from some increasingly cynical tackling by the Ivory Coast, and his first worry of the evening came when Elano was carried off. Then Drogba scored. But the coach could rest easily enough. This was a big performance from a growing team, one more than capable of dealing with the odd convenience, however ridiculous.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little