June 22, 2006

Ronaldo ties record as Brazil floor Japan

By Brian Homewood

DORTMUND (Reuters) - Brazil striker Ronaldo equaled Gerd
Mueller's World Cup finals record of 14 goals, scoring twice in
the 4-1 win over Japan in Group F on Thursday.

Ronaldo moved alongside the former West Germany striker
when he grabbed his second goal of the game for the champions
in the 81st minute.

Japan, coached by former Brazil captain Zico, took a shock
lead through Keiji Tamada in the 34th minute before Ronaldo,
heavily criticized for his performances in Brazil's first two
games, equalized in first-half injury time.

Second-half goals from Juninho Pernambucano, Gilberto and
Ronaldo again allowed Brazil to finish the group with maximum
points and complete their 10th successive win at the World Cup

Brazil face Ghana in the last 16 while Japan, with one
point, were knocked out.

Ronaldo kept his place but coach Carlos Alberto Parreira
made five other changes.

Fullbacks Cafu and Roberto Carlos were replaced by Cicinho
and Gilberto while Robinho stepped in for Adriano in attack.

For the first 20 minutes, Brazil's football flowed for the
first time in the tournament as they sliced through the Japan

Only goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi stood between the
rampant champions and a significant lead.

Kawaguchi turned away two efforts from Ronaldo and one each
from Robinho, Kaka and Juninho.

But Brazil left gaps at the back and Japan took advantage
when Alex slipped the ball inside to Tamada, who fired past
Dida with a first-time shot on the turn.

It was the first goal Brazil had conceded in seven
internationals, the last being against Bolivia last October.

Brazil were knocked out of their stride but leveled out of
the blue.

Ronaldinho's diagonal pass found Cicinho, he headed across
the goal and the unmarked Ronaldo headed home.

Juninho put Brazil ahead with a dipping 30-meter effort
which went through Kawaguchi's hands in the 53rd minute.

In the 59th minute, Ronaldinho produced a slide-rule pass
for Gilberto to break down the left and place the third past

Ronaldo made it 4-1 when he swivelled before curling in a
shot from the edge of the box.