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One-Sided Victory Not Enough for Brazilian Coach

June 14, 2002|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SUWON, South Korea — There are not many coaches in the world who would complain after winning a game, 5-2, but then again, there are not many coaches in the world like Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Scolari, Brazil's taciturn and sometimes terse mentor, was angered Thursday by Brazil's defensive shortcomings even as it demolished Costa Rica in a seven-goal treat that was a throwback to soccer's wide-open days of old.

"It reminded me of the Brazil-versus-Peru game in 1970, two teams playing with similar styles to this, a great game, lots of goals," said Alexandre Guimaraes, Costa Rica's Brazilian-born coach.

But "Big Phil," as Scolari is known, was not as easily entertained. Even as Brazil was scoring goals with ease and apparently at will, he was standing on the sideline, furiously signaling his defenders and midfielders.

Afterward, when Brazil had joined Spain as the only two teams so far to advance to the second round with 3-0 records, Scolari talked of "mistakes" and "problems" rather than goals of glorious variety and profusion.

"We are making mistakes and we know what those mistakes are," he said. "We give chances to the opponent, but this will be worked on. They are problems we know about. We know our strengths and weaknesses."

It was a game that flowed from beginning to end.

The final score might just as easily have been 7-5.

There were chances aplenty at both ends and the woodwork was rattled by shots that were mere inches off target.

Brazil jumped out to a lead in the 10th minute with the first of two goals in a span of three minutes by Ronaldo, who has four in the tournament. The first goal, which came after a surging run, originally had been ruled an own goal but was overturned after a FIFA review. Edmilson's goal in the 38th minute made it 3-0.

Costa Rica was creating chances of its own but was hurt by poor finishing. Finally, in the 39th minute, Paulo Wanchope cut into the deficit. Eleven minutes into the second half Ronald Gomez made it 3-2.

The Brazilians replied by shifting up a gear, and goals by Rivaldo and Junior two minutes apart were enough to send Costa Rica spinning out of the tournament.

But Guimaraes was undismayed, choosing instead to see the positives rather than the negatives in what had been a fine advertisement for attacking soccer.

"Anyone could have played for the tie [that would have put Costa Rica into the final 16]," he said. "But we didn't want to do this. We wanted to show that we are good enough to compete and play our own game."

Brazil, meanwhile, stays on track for the record fifth World Cup it is seeking. With France and Argentina eliminated and other teams struggling, Brazil is now the favorite to reach and probably win the final on June 30.

But Scolari isn't conceding anything.

"I understand that people see us as favorites, but we do not consider ourselves as such," he said. "I keep telling the players to be humble, that we need to go step by step. The next stage will be hard and we are preparing for that."

Once a curmudgeon, always a curmudgeon.

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