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Black Stars light up night, fade away

That Ghana had more possession, more shots on goal and even more corner-kicks showed their exuberance.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2006 09:26 IST

History happened four minutes and fifty seconds after kick-off in Dortmund on Tuesday evening. It wasn't quite like a Nureyev pirouette but the way Ronaldo jigged past Richard Kingson belied his huge 82kg frame. A poke later, he was the World Cup's highest goal scorer ever.

Three strikes in the last two matches after going goalless in his first two; The Phenomenon is enjoying his time in Germany.

Adriano scored on the stroke of half-time, his opportunism at getting to the end of a four-pass move, initiated by Ronaldinho and carried forward by Kaka and Cafu on the right, marred by the giant looking off-side. But the goal stood and Brazil were in the quarter-finals, Ze Roberto's strike putting the finishing touches. Now the competition will have no representation from Africa and Asia.

Brazil haven't been convincing except for the second half against Japan -- perhaps plain lucky at times but are still on course for their sixth World Cup. His thoughts on the goals, aired publicly, had Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic banished to the stands but Ghana could have fulfilled the Serbian's prediction of beating the champions. Had they showed better shooting prowess. Till he got expelled for diving in the 80th minute, Asamoah Gyan seemed to be aiming for the skyscrapers here rather than at Dida's goal.

Given his size it is amazing that most of Ronaldo's goals have come through soft final touches. It was therefore appropriate that the World Cup's most successful finisher would get there with another clinical finish.

Standing on the fringe of a Ghanaian backline whose upward mobility seemed dangerous when it was not disastrous, Ronaldo latched on to a ball played by Kaka and sent Kingson the wrong way with hip swivel before slotting home.

In a weird first-half between teams whose defences seemed to be on holiday, Ghana could have hit back had Asamoah Gyan, Matthew Amaoh and Sulley Muntari managed even a percentage of Ronaldo's finishing abilities.

Brazil also had their share of luck with Dida fortunate that Mensah's header didn't dribble in between his legs and Juan's clearance wasn't a self-goal. With Emerson and Ze Roberto struggling to aid the flat back four, Ghana created quite a few holes in Brazil's defence. It was somewhat stemmed by Gilberto Silva replacing Emerson who took a knock early in the match. Haminu Draman's long-range missile that Dida palmed over was the first real indication that the Black Stars weren't overawed by the five-time world champions.

Soon, Asamoah had a clear look on goal after a ball from outside the area beat Lucio but could only manage a weak shot. Amoah, playing at his club ground, too dragged wide. 

Ronaldinho got noticed by the sellout crowd with a sudden blast that Kingson kept out. He then signalled to Lucio driving a corner-kick deep for the central defender to get a header back in. Lucio did but Kaka didn't get time or space to redirect it into goal. On the break, Draman ran free but ignored a teammate on his right to go solo with a wayward effort.

That Ghana had more possession, more shots on goal and even more corner-kicks showed their exuberance. That Brazil had two goals going into half-time and another after the breather showed that sometime it is experience which matters more at this level.