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Brazil Knows the Drill

Soccer: South Americans set themselves apart in winning their record fifth championship behind Ronaldo's two second-half goals.


YOKOHAMA, Japan — Asia's first World Cup has entered the history books, and fortunately they are illustrated volumes.

The snapshots came tumbling out on a rainy Sunday night here, where in front of 69,029 fans at the International Stadium, Brazil defeated Germany, 2-0, on two goals by Ronaldo.

Sorting through the images could take as long as it took Brazil to win all seven of its games at Korea/Japan '02 and thereby claim a record fifth world championship, the much-coveted "penta."

There was, for instance, the picture of Pele, reaching up to hand the golden World Cup trophy to Brazil's captain, Cafu, standing on a tall pedestal amid a shower of silver confetti.

There was the contrasting image of German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, sitting slumped against a goal post, staring vacantly into space, until he was pulled out of his reverie and to his feet by teammate Thomas Linke.

There was the picture of Ronaldo and Rivaldo, two-thirds of Brazil's "Triple R" offense, leaping the advertising boards at game's end to cavort with a Brazilian flag in front of the massed yellow ranks of Brazilian fans.

There was the image of Germany Coach Rudi Voeller, swallowing the hurt at having lost the opportunity to become only the third person to win the World Cup both as a player and coach, walking over to congratulate Ronaldo.

There was the poignant picture of Cafu, who had made history by becoming the first player to appear in three consecutive World Cup finals, hoisting a Brazil shirt with the word "campeao" printed on it and, scribbled beneath that, the name of Cafu's predecessor, Emerson, who was sent home before the World Cup began when he injured his shoulder during training.

There was Brazil Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, planting a kiss of delight on the bald head of defender Roberto Carlos and later walking over to commiserate with the luckless Kahn.

There was Ronaldinho, the third member of the "Triple R" line and a player who worked tirelessly all night, leaping gleefully into the arms of a teammate.

There was the smiling image of Italian referee Pierluigi Collina, bouncing the ball at midfield and knowing that he had called a flawless game.

There was the banner carried around the field by Brazil's players, the one in Portuguese that read: "Povo Brasileiro Obrigado Pelo Carinho," a heartfelt thank you to the people of Brazil for caring about the team as much as they do.

There was ... well, the images multiply and overlap, becoming a blur of color, not unlike the rain of origami paper birds that cascaded down from the stadium roof as music swelled as the end of the World Cup drew near.

Memorable for myriad reasons, the tournament is finally over. Sixty-four games in 31 days in 20 cities across two countries adds up to, well, exhaustion for one thing, but also a fine chapter in the history of the sport.

Sunday's game marked the story's final passage, and Brazil and Germany provided a spectacle fit for the occasion. The match will not be remembered as a classic, but it was entertaining throughout, and not as one-sided as a shutout might indicate.

Brazil's goals came only after it weathered an uneasy first 30 minutes, during which Germany should have taken better advantage of the South Americans' nerves. Once Brazil settled itself, the Europeans' fate was sealed.

Brazil's Kleberson clanged a shot off the crossbar before halftime to signal his country's intent.

Germany's Oliver Neuville banged a shot off the right post moments after halftime to signal his country's resolve.

In the end, it was Ronaldo who made the difference, grabbing the all-important first goal in the 67th minute and adding a second 12 minutes later.

Sadly for the Germans, the first came as the result of an uncharacteristic error by their best and most reliable player, Kahn.

Ronaldo started the move by slipping a pass to Rivaldo that cut defender Christoph Metzelder out of the play. Rivaldo hit a shot that didn't appear particularly dangerous, but Kahn bobbled the ball, allowing it to roll off his hands and onto his chest and bounce away.

Ronaldo was on the loose ball immediately, driving it into the back of the German net before Kahn could get to it.

The Brazilian reserves and fans celebrated as if the World Cup had been won. The drums suddenly grew louder, the cheering more confident. "Bra-zil, Bra-zil" rang out across the stadium. German heads dropped.

Voeller sent striker Oliver Bierhoff on in place of forward Miroslav Klose, who had scored five goals in the first round but none since. A few minutes later, Voeller replaced Jens Jeremies with forward Gerald Asamoah.

Neither move altered the course of the game, although a stinging Bierhoff shot forced a smart save by Brazilian goalkeeper Marcos. Then, in the 79th minute, Brazil struck again.

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