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Monday, June 19, 2006

Gutsy Socceroos go down to Brazil

By Stuart Watt in Munich and wires

Australia need at least a draw with Croatia in their final World Cup Group F match to progress to the second round after a 2-0 defeat by Brazil in Munich this morning.

A second half strike from Adriano and a last-minute goal by substitute Fred gave the world champions victory and a place in the last 16.

The Socceroos remain in second place in the group after Japan and Croatia played out a scoreless draw earlier.

The Australians went to half-time on level terms, but four minutes after the break Adriano scored after good lead-up by strike partner Ronaldo.

Australian coach Guus Hiddink said there was a suggestion of offside about the goal.

"There were some doubts about that, but it was very close," he said.

He also questioned some of the refereeing decisions, saying several of the 50-50 decisions went against the Socceroos.

In the build-up to the game the Australians had been portrayed as very physical and the foul count was lop-sided against them.

"Let's be honest, it was not decisive, but ... there were some decisions made in which I think I had my doubts during the game," Hiddink said.

While he said he was disappointed with the result, he was pleased with the way his team played.

"We can be proud of the team, how they performed, how their attitude was, how their concept was to play," he said.

"I think a little bit of difference is that they [Brazil] are more lethal when they are coming into the box.

"We had, in the second half, two or three good opportunities, but we failed to make the goal. But I think I can be proud of the way the concept was executed by the players."


Once the Australians went behind, they began to attack the Brazilians in search of an equaliser.

Hiddink threw first Harry Kewell, then John Aloisi on and although the Socceroos created a number of scoring opportunities, they could not capitalise.

Fred made the game safe for Brazil in the 90th minute with a tap-in after a shot by fellow sub Robinho came back off a post.

"It's very disappointing not to get something out of the game but Brazil are Brazil and we gave them a good game," Australia captain Mark Viduka told SBS.

"We played well and on another day it could have been different for us."

Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira praised Australia. He said they had the talent to make the second round, but would not be drawn on who he thought would win the crunch game against Croatia.

"I think it's a very equal game. They have different styles. Both teams are very good physically. Both mark properly. I believe it's an open game," he said.

Striker Ronaldo was substituted for the second game running by Parreira, who said the striker was improving after a poor performance in the World Cup holders' opening 1-0 victory over Croatia.

Midfielder Ze Roberto said the Brazilians were improving.

"We are getting better," said Brazil midfielder Ze Roberto. "We will, I think, get better in every game.

"We tried to impose our style of play from the start but we were up against a very strong opponent who were strong in defence."

Brazil's best first-half move came in the third minute.

Ronaldo controlled the ball on his chest and flicked the ball backwards to Kaka who volleyed wide from the edge of the penalty area.

If the ball had gone in, the game could have taken a completely different course.

Instead, Australia packed the midfield and hustled Brazil out of their stride with tenacious marking and tackling.

Brazilian pair Ronaldo and Ronaldinho were both subdued, with only Kaka's penetrating runs offering any threat.

Ronaldo, who had a dismal match against Croatia, was again out of sorts and at one point had a heated argument with coach Carlos Alberto Parreira on the touchline.

His frustration was complete with a yellow card for playing on after he had been flagged offside.

The second half was only four minutes old when Brazil got the breakthrough they badly needed.

Ronaldinho picked out Ronaldo, who held off his marker and rolled the ball across the face of the penalty area to Adriano.

The Inter Milan striker, also struggling until then, took one touch and placed a low shot beyond goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer's left hand.



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