Tuesday, 13th June 2006
World Champions Hang On To The Cracker From Kaka
Brazil vs Croatia
Brazil and Croatia have only met once; a friendly in Split on August 17th, 2005. The game
ended (1:1) with both goals coming in the first half.
Niko Kranjcar was on hand to tap in the rebound after Ivica Olic hit
the post in the 32nd minute. Brazil soon drew level though, when 10 minutes later
Ricardinho's free kick flew into the top right-hand corner of the net. The South Americans
could have taken the lead, in the 69th minute, when Adriano struck the post.
Brazil and Croatia walked up the short steps onto the pitch at the Olympic Stadium in
Berlin, at 8.54pm local time, to a tremendous welcome from their adoring fans and
thousands of neutrals who were lucky enough to get tickets to see the World Champions set
out to defend their crown; although they had to go through the qualifying campaign like
everyone else, apart from the hosts Germany.
Kaka and Ronaldinho gave each other a huge hug as the teams took up
Ronaldinho's first magical demonstration occurred in the third minute.
Croatia didn't fall under his spell and cleared the danger.
In the 15th minute, Stipe Pletikosa was forced to tip over a log-range
shot from Roberto Carlos, then get down to save from Ronaldinho when the ensuing corner
Croatia had their moments down the wings as well, with Dado Prso
making good runs down the left. An even first twenty five minutes.
Nico Kovac seemed to suffer a rib injury but returned to the pitch to
pull back Kak� on the edge of the area and earn himself a yellow card. Ronaldinho blasted
the ball into the wall, won the ball back, jostled with three of four Croatians then tried
to get an attack going again on the left, with an extravagant back-heel. Croatia continued
to contain the World Champions by spotting the dangers early.
Then Nico Kovac received another barge into the midriff and, after
trying to go on yet again, the Croatian captain had to go off.
Then just as Croatia thought they had the first-half's job done they
gave the ball away in Brazil's half and struggled to get back as Brazil came forward.
Kak� shrugged off two defenders to gain the space needed, then caressed the ball into the
back of the net; with the inside of his left foot, from outside the area.
Croatia tried to get back on level terms early in the second-half;
Dado Prso and Ivan Klasnic both firing warning shots at Dida, in the Brazilian goal.
Croatia upped their offensive strategy after the hour, caught Brazil
napping a few more times but wasted their chances by firing straight at Dida.
With Brazil happy to run the time down towards the end, a Croatian fan
beat the security and ran across the pitch; Croatian fans lit flares and made themselves
With a little over a minute left on the clock, Niko Kranjcar slipped
in between two Brazilian defefenders and headed on to the roof of the net.
Brazil 1 - Croatia 0
1:0 Kak� (44)
Brazil: (Captain Cafu)
1 Nelson Dida; 2 Cafu, 3 Ferreira Lucio, 4 Juan, 6 Roberto
Carlos; 5 Emerson, 8 Kak�, 10 Ronaldinho, 11 Jose Ze Roberto;
7 Adriano, 9 Ronaldo.
Croatia: (Captain Nico Kovac/Igor
1 Stipe Pletikosa; 3 Josip Simunic, 4 Robert Kovac, 5 Igor Tudor, 7 Dario Simic; 2 Darijo
Srna, 8 Marko Babic, 10 Nico Kovac, 19 Niko Kranjcar; 9 Dado Prso, 17 Ivan Klasnic.
Benito Archundia (Mexico)
40 Mins (Croatia) - 16 Jerko Leko on for 10 Nico Kovac
57 Mins (Croatia) - 18 Ivica Olic on for 17 Ivan Klasnic
60 Mins (Brazil) - 23 Robinho on for 9 Ronaldo
32 Mins - Nico Kovac (Croatia)
43 Mins - Emerson (Brazil)
67 Mins - Robert Kovac (Croatia)
90 Mins - Igor Tudor (Croatia)
0 Red Cards.
2006 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
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