Brazil wins despite Ivory Coast theatrics
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
Brazil's Lucio, Gilberto Silva and Ivory Coast's Gervais Yao Kouassi come between Ivory Coast's Christian Koffi Ndri and Brazil's Kaka. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
JOHANNESBURG -- Fans went to Soccer City on Sunday and saw a hockey game break out.
Check that. Even the NHL's worst divers would not have provided the disgusting theatrics produced by the Ivory Coast's Kader Keita late in Brazil's electrifying 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast.
Keita's flop job spoiled an otherwise wonderful performance by a Brazilian team that seems focused on steamrolling its way through the competition en route to a record sixth World Cup title.
Through the first 10 days of the tournament, South American rivals Brazil and Argentina appear to be the class of the World Cup, having outscored their opponents by margins of 5-2 and 5-1 respectively.
Sniper Luis Fabiano led the way for Brazil with a pair of goals while Elano added a single. Unfortunately for the Brazilians, Elano would later be carried off on a stretcher after a questionable challenge from an Ivory Coast player.
By not carding the Ivory Coast assailant, referee Stephane Lannay lost control of the contest, opening the door for further hard tackles.
With Brazil coach Dunga freaking out on the sideline at the aggressive tactics being adopted by Ivory Coast, chaos finally erupted in the 88th minute when Keita was gently elbowed in the chest by Brazil's Kaka.
Keita's reaction? He dropped to the turf clutching his face as if he'd been shot, causing all the players to congregate.
Kaka, who had been issued a yellow card three minutes earlier for pushing an Ivory Coast player, was subsequently shown a second yellow, meaning he was booted out of the game.
And Keita? Maybe he'll be nominated for an Academy Award, but he was allowed to continue.
All the while, he was never hit in the face. Never.
"It was a totally unjustified dismissal of Kaka," Dunga fumed. "He was fouled and yet he was punished.
"The player (Keita) who commits the foul escapes the yellow card, I have to congratulate him for that," Dunga added, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Kaka will miss Brazil's final group stage match against Portugal because of his expulsion.
"I won't make any comment about the red card," a bitter Kaka said.
"I think all of you saw the image and everything else, so I have nothing further to say. The images are there for all to see and you are able to see what really happened."
With poor officiating becoming more of an issue with every passing day, Lannay had a brutal game. About 20 minutes before the Kaka ejection, replays showed that there were two hand balls on the play leading to the second Fabiano goal.
By Fabiano himself.
Making matters worse: Fabiano admitted his indiscretion.
"It's true, the ball really touched my hand and then my shoulder," Fabiano said. "But it was involuntary.
"It was one of the greatest goals I've scored in my career."
So was Maradona's Hand of God goal. And that one was illegal, too.
"It shouldn't have been allowed," Ivory Coast coach Sven Goran Eriksson said. "They got a goal free. That's a 2-0 goal -- that changed everything.
"It's even more difficult if he's allowed to use his hands. Of course it's a handball. It's not once, it's twice."
Didier Drogba did reply with a late goal, but that came with Brazil already holding a three-goal lead.
The victory ensures Brazil a spot in The Round of 16.
In the process, it shed even more controversy on the shoddy officiating that is quickly emerging at South Africa 2010.