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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Brazil beat Croatia 1-0 with Kaka's great goal

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Brazil defeated Croacia 1-0 in a hard game and became the first team in World Cup history to win eight successive matches in the finals on Tuesday.

The Olympiastadion was the scenario fpr a bad Brazilian performance, despite the memorable goal from Kaka a minute before halftime.

Kaka controlled a pass from Cafu and made space for himself by holding off a challenge from two defenders before lashing home an unstoppable left-foot curler from 25 meters to beat the rivals.

Goalkeeper Pletikosa made two vital saves to keep his side in the game: first from a blistering long-range Roberto Carlos blast from 25 meters after 15 minutes and then from a Ronaldinho Gaucho header in the 62nd minute.

In fact, those moves inspired the Croatian forwards to go in search of the equalizer and goalkeeper Dida was kept busy at the other end as Dado Prso, Marko Babic and Jerko Leko kept the Brazilians in danger.

However, that is more than can be said for Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward had a poor game in the Brazil attack, recalling his woeful performance in the 1998 World Cup final, and it was no surprise when coach Carlos Alberto Parreira replaced him with Robinho at minute 69.

Coach Parreira paid tribute to Croatia's stubborn performance and was very pleased to get off to a winning result.

"The victory was exceptional, excellent. The performance could be better but it will improve in the next encounter... For us today it was so important to start with a win."

In the other hand, Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjcar admitted he thought his team were unlucky.

"I think we didn't deserve to lose this match. For most of the time we were the better team. It was a pity we didn't take our opportunities but if you make one mistake against Brazil you will lose the match."

It's true that Brazil failed to reach their exalted heights of magical football but they showed their usual touches of brilliance in flashes -- and defended well and in depth when they needed to.

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