Kaka lifts Brazil to 1-0 victory
BERLIN Brazil brought Carnival to Germany. With the way Croatia behaved, it might not get an invite to the Brazilians next party.Kaka delighted the Brazilian fans who have sambaed their way to Europe, scoring in the 44th minute, and the defending champions won their record eighth straight World Cup game with a 1-0 victory over Croatia on Tuesday night.But beware, all you other World Cup teams. Croatia settled down after a scratchy start and gave Brazil all it could handle. It peppered goalkeeper Dida with several shots in the second half, including one by Dado Prso in the 51st minute that went off the Brazilians hands.And if captain Niko Kovac hadnt left with what appeared to be a rib injury just before halftime, the outcome might have been very different.We needed a little more movement, creativity, Kaka said. But I think considering it was the opener, it was a good match. The win was fundamental.Croatia now plays Japan on Sunday, a game it needs to win after Australias surprising victory on Monday. Brazil plays the Aussies on Sunday.The Brazilians are soccers royalty, five-time world champions and winners of two of the last three titles. They have Ronaldinho, the two-time world player of the year, and a cast of all-stars in Ronaldo, Kaka, Adriano and Cafu. And with reserves who would start on any other team, theyre heavy favorites to be partying again in Berlin after the final on July 9.But Brazils fans are professionals who arent about to let a party go to waste, and they helped give this game the feeling of a final. Brazilian and Croatian fans took over the streets of Berlin early in the day, and the sounds of samba filled the air.Flashbulbs popped all night throughout the stadium, and bright red flares lit up the sky as the game ended. A fan in a Croatia shirt even got on the field with less than 10 minutes to go, running around until Prso led him off.And just as they usually do on soccers biggest stage, Brazil came through when it needed to. Even with Ronaldo, he of the great weight debate, looking less than impressive.Dribbling up the right side in the 44th minute, Cafu spotted Kaka in the middle and made a perfect pass. Kaka collected it and was past Niko Krancjar with one quick tap of the ball.The 21-year-old son of coach Zlatko Kranjcar has been a concern defensively, and it was soon clear why. Kranjcar wasnt anywhere close as Kaka stutter-stepped, giving the Brazilian time to look up and check his aim from about 20 yards out.Switzerland 0, France 0STUTTGART, Germany France still cant score in the World Cup.The star-studded French were held to a 0-0 tie by Switzerland on Tuesday, bringing back memories of their horrid World Cup 2002 performance, when Les Bleus were knocked out in the first round without finding the net.The last time the French scored in a World Cup game was when they beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 final at Stade de France. They lost 1-0 to Senegal and 2-0 to Denmark at the 2002 championship and were held 0-0 by Uruguay.The Swiss also held the French to draws in qualifying games and this result could have been even worse for Raymond Domenechs team.We know that team all too well, Domenech said. Its the sort of match we expected. We could have beaten them in the first half, they could have won the match in the second half.This was a high-level match from both teams.Alexander Frei had a wonderful chance to win it for the Swiss when he leaped to meet a free kick from Ludovic Magnin. Instead of heading the ball, the striker tried to punch it home from 3 yards and was given a yellow card for cheating.South Korea 2, Togo 1FRANKFURT, Germany Togo got its coach back for its opening World Cup match, and even took a halftime lead.Then everything fell apart in a 2-1 loss to South Korea on Tuesday.South Koreas long wait for its first World Cup victory on foreign soil ended against the tiny African nation, which put up an unexpectedly spirited performance given the coaching turmoil that ended only moments before the match.To compound its problems, Togo played with 10 men for the final 37 minutes.Even though they were defeated, just getting on the field must have come as a relief for the Togolese, who made headlines around the world for the chaos engulfing their camp.There were doubts until almost gametime whether coach Otto Pfister, who resigned on Friday and agreed to come back Monday, would actually sit on the bench. But he took his place, encouraging his team on.We had the Koreans under control. But then after the red card, it was different, he said.
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