- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

From combined dispatches

Brazil 2, Turkey 1
ULSAN, South Korea Brazil's stars came through when it mattered, which bodes well for the four-time champions in the World Cup.
Rivaldo drilled in a penalty kick in the waning minutes and teamed up with Ronaldo to lead Brazil to a come-from-behind 2-1 thriller over Turkey yesterday.
Quieting worries about their battered knees, the two bedeviled Turkey's defense in a late-game charge that left Brazil atop Group C.
Rivaldo got the call to take the kick when Turkish defender Alpay Ozalan dragged down Luizao in the penalty area in the 87th minute. Not only was the Turk sent off, but Rivaldo rocketed a low shot to the left of goalie Rustu Receber, and Munsu Stadium erupted in a green-and-yellow frenzy.
"We deserved it," said Rivaldo, struggling to regain his form after a knee injury. "We allowed a silly goal and had to run twice as hard to turn it around, but I was confident we would."
Turkey coach Senol Gunes protested the call by South Korean referee Kim Young-joo's decision.
"We controlled Brazil, but we couldn't control the referee," Gunes said. "It was not a penalty, he was outside the area. He changed the course of the game with an unjust penalty decision."
Ronaldo made a triumphant return to soccer's center stage, although admittedly still subpar as he recovers from two knee operations that nearly ended his career.
Turkey took a first-half lead through a goal in injury time by Hasan Sas.
But in the 50th minute Rivaldo moved left and curled in a pass to Ronaldo, who split three defenders, leaped sideways and caught the ball with his right foot to beat Receber.
Then the Brazilians won it on the penalty.
Turkey, making its first World Cup appearance in 48 years, played evenly with Brazil for much of the game. Receber led a stubborn defense that thwarted the Brazilian attack.
"We came here with pride and we played with pride," Gunes said. "We did what we wanted, but we gave away two goals that we shouldn't have."
Brazil's vaunted "Triple R" attack Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho found little operating space in the clogged Turkish backfield.
But Brazil jelled in the second half.
In an artful combination, Ronaldinho found Rivaldo, who chested to Ronaldo, who dropped it for Juninho streaking in from the midfield. He caught a shot in full flight, but his bullet skimmed the crossbar.
Then Ronaldo drove to the left baseline and curled a cross to Rivaldo for a textbook header. Receber, moving the wrong way, leaped backward and somehow got a hand on it.
Minutes later, Ronaldinho sneaked through the defense, but Receber blocked his shot with his leg.
"We could have won by a greater margin, but the reason we didn't was Receber," Rivaldo said.

Italy 2, Ecuador 0
SAPPORO, Japan Muscular Italian striker Christian Vieri bullied his way through Ecuador, scoring two first-half goals to give three-time champion Italy an impressive victory.
Italy looked solid all around, but the attacking duo of Vieri and playmaker Francesco Totti really shined. Vieri powered his way through Ecuador's penalty area again and again, shouldering defenders aside, while Totti sent him brilliant passes.
"To score two goals in the first half of the first game you feel good," Vieri said with a satisfied smile. "Playing together with Totti worked well. We have to be content."
Vieri, picking up where he left off in the last World Cup, used his powerful left foot to redirect a cross from Totti into the net in the seventh minute.
Twenty minutes later, Vieri took control of a long pass and again beat Ecuador goalkeeper Jose Cevallos. This time, the initial shot was partially blocked by Cevallos, but the ball kept moving toward the goal and Vieri calmly jogged toward it, tapping it in the final few inches.
At France '98, Vieri also led Italy's attack, scoring five goals in five matches.
Ecuador, playing its first World Cup match, had trouble penetrating Italy's experienced backline, and much-touted forward Agustin Delgado failed to make an impression.

Mexico 1, Croatia 0
NIIGATA, Japan Mexico got off to an excellent start riding Cuauhtemoc Blanco's penalty kick in the 61st minute to victory over Croatia, moving one step closer to a spot in the second round.
"I'm not satisfied," coach Javier Aguirre said. "We keep making the same mistakes, making bad decisions in our own half. But we did manage the ball well."
The return of midfielders Jesus Arellano and Joahan Rodriguez, back from suspensions, should help even more.
"I'm getting back two very important players, which should help us to show something different," Aguirre said.
The penalty also resulted in the first red card of the tournament, for Croatia's Boris Zivkovic, who stuck out his right leg on the advancing Blanco. Zivkovic brought down the attacker while making no contact with the ball. Referee Lu Jun showed no hesitation in ejecting Zivkovic and pointing to the penalty spot.

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