Brazil top Group G after listless draw against Portugal
Five-time champions Brazil and their former colonial masters Portugal played out a disapppointing goalless draw in a listless Group G FIFA World Cup match as both teams progressed to the next round of the tournament in Durban on Friday.
The much-anticipated match between the two sides, who were known for their free-flowing football, failed to produce any spark at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Brazil, who made three changes in the starting line-up from their last match, were not allowed to play their fast short-passing game by the Portuguese.
For a team known for its attacking flair and creativity, Brazil could get just a couple of openings in the entire match while Portugal looked more dangerous in the second session.
Image: Brazil's Maicon (L) and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (C) react to referee Benito Archindia of Mexico
Portugal, Brazil lacked finishing
Brazil, who were without Kaka -- red carded against Ivory Coast -- and injured Elano besides Robinho, had more ball possession but they lacked finishing.
Despite the listless show, Brazil topped the group with seven points -- from two wins and a draw -- while Portugal finished runners-up with five points -- from one win and two draws.
At the hour mark, Portugal had a golden chance to go ahead but for Brazil keeper Julio Cesar's brilliant save.
Two minutes into the second half, Ronaldo broke down the right surging ahead of Juan but he failed to get past Lucio who made a great tackle, only to see the ball land inside the box where Raul Meireles poked towards the goal but Brazilian custodian Cesar stuck his right hand to get a crucial deflection for a corner.
Image: Portugal's Raul Meireles sits on the pitch after his effort goes off target as Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar lies injured at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban
Ronaldo was in the thick of things
Dunga's boys though had more chances in the opening 45 minutes and Nilmar's strike in the 30th minute crashed on the left upright after hitting the Portuguese keeper.
Nine minutes later, Brazil had a golden chance to surge ahead but Luis Fabiano's free header from a high cross off a Maicon pass went just wide of the bar.
Portugal put early pressure after resumption with captain Cristiano Ronaldo in the thick of things.
In the injury time, Ramires, who came in for Julio Baptista in the 82nd minute, had a shot from outside the Portugal box and after deflection from a defender the ball looked like entering the net before keeper Eduardo made a brilliant save.
Image: Ronaldo with Lucio and Gilberto Silva
Ivory Coast win convincingly but go out
In another Group G match played simultaneously in Nelspruit, Ivory Coast beat North Korea 3-0 but both sides crashed out of the tournament.
Ivory Coast finished on four points while North Korea ended without opening their account after three losses in as many matches.
Despite their exit, Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said he was pleased with his side's performance in what had always looked like one of the tournament's hardest groups.
"They should be very proud of themselves and the country should be very proud of them," he told reporters.
"It's a good team and I think the future belongs to this country ... absolutely. The future for this country, football-wise, is great."
Image: Ivory Coast's Ndri Romaric celebrates during the 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match at Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit
Our World Cup is over today: Drogba
The Ivorians had needed to score a glut of goals to give themselves any chance of overhauling Portugal after their earlier 7-0 win over North Korea.
Goals from Yaya Toure and Ndri Romaric gave the Ivorians a 2-0 halftime lead, but it could have been five or six as North Korea struggled to cope with the one-way traffic heading towards their net.
Ivory Coast notched up a third when Kalou, on as a substitute, side footed home from close range in the 82nd minute after a great cross from Arthur Boka.
"If we were a little bit more calm maybe we could have scored more goals," said striker Didier Drogba,
"Our world cup is over today but we can be proud of what we did against Portugal and what we did against Brazil and today. We are disappointed but we can't be too disappointed when you are in a group like this with Portugal and Brazil."
He also saw good times ahead for his nation's team.
"For a country like Ivory Coast to be in the world cup twice in a row is something fantastic. We were unlucky but at the same time we are happy," he said.
Image: Ivory Coast's Salomon Kalou (L) scores a goal past North Korea's goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk during a 2010 World Cup Group G match