Brazil hand China harsh World Cup lesson
By Brian Homewood
SOGWIPO, South Korea (Reuters) - Brazil chalked up their best win at the World Cup finals since 1986 as the four Rs -- Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo -- scored the goals that gave them a 4-0 victory over China on Saturday.
The four-times world champions survived a sticky opening before cruising to a 3-0 halftime lead with a spectacular Roberto Carlos free kick, a close-range goal by Rivaldo and a Ronaldinho penalty. Ronaldo scored the fourth early in the second half.
It was Brazil's biggest win at the finals since they beat Poland 4-0 in the second round in Mexico in 1986.
They lead group C with six points and will reach the last 16 if Turkey fail to beat Costa Rica on Sunday. Otherwise, they need a point against the Central Americans in their last group match on Thursday to progress to the second round.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said he was aware of the gap in experience between the two countries but knew the Chinese team had improved a lot and would begin at a fast pace.
"We knew China would start the match by putting us under pressure, so we decided to wait until after the first 10-15 minutes and then we started to play our game and pass the ball.
"We were technically superior to China so we played our usual game and things went well. We know we are a better team because we are more experienced than China.
"Brazil are playing opponents who lack World Cup experience and are not so difficult to play against.
"But we are improving and we know that our team is getting better match-by-match so I hope we can improve for the next game," he said looking ahead to Costa Rica.
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China coach Bora Milutinovic said he was happier with China's performance against Brazil than after their opening match against Costa Rica, which they lost 2-0.
"Brazil are very good, but I'm happy with the performance of my players. Even against Brazil I'm more happy today with the determination but we didn't score. Our players learned a lot."
World Cup debutants China have no points from two games and need an unlikely combination of results to proceed. Although they played some neat football in midfield they were outclassed and appeared to lose composure when they reached the danger zone.
But China, missing key defenders Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai, but backed by a noisy contingent of about 20,000 in the crowd, put Brazil under early pressure as they made a bold start.
But their dreams of adding to the list of World Cup upsets lasted only until the 15th minute when Roberto Carlos set Brazil on their way with one of his trademark booming free kicks.
The defender fired into the far corner from about 30 metres, the ball flashing past the Chinese wall and into the net before goalkeeper Jiang Jin could react.
Brazil slowly began to find their rhythm and Cafu had a fierce angled shot saved by Jiang before Rivaldo made it 2-0 after 32 minutes, volleying in a Ronaldinho cross for his second goal of the tournament.
Captain Ma Mingyu had China's best first-half chance in the 37th minute but his shot deflected off a defender's head and sails over the bar.
Ronaldinho scored Brazil's third from a penalty in first-half injury time after Chinese defender Li Weifeng pulled Ronaldo back.
Denilson came on for Ronaldinho at halftime because Scolari did not want to risk him getting a second booking after the midfielder received a yellow card midway through the first half for simulating a foul.
The fourth goal came 10 minutes after the break when Cafu ran to the byline and put over a low cross for Ronaldo to score his second goal of the competition.
China's best spell followed as Ma was sent clear but could not control the ball and a minute later Zhao Junzhe hit the post from the edge of the penalty area.
Milutinovic brought on Yang Pu for Ma and Shao Jiayi for Qi Hong to give them some experience against a clearly superior Brazilian team and in the 70th minute Shao Jiayi showed his worth with a free kick that was turned around the post from Marcos.
Brazil made a double substitution with 18 minutes left as Ricardinho and Edilson replaced Juninho and Ronaldo but by then the match was over and Brazil already had one eye on their final group match against Costa Rica, if not the second round.