Possibly the best game of the tournament so far. There was no love lost between these two sides, with pre-match accusations of spying and dirty tricks from both camps (why Turkey needed to spy and not just watch the videos heaven knows - even the television coverage of their players cutting their toe nails runs to several hours).
A breathtaking start, with Ronaldo back to something like his best form, but Turkey not letting their opponents run the show. The 'Europeans' even had the audacity to take the lead on the stroke of half time when Hasan Sas got behind the defence to turn in Bastürk's cross. Ronaldo got one back though after the break, and then Korean referee Mr. Kim came up with the worst decision of the tournament (an early candidate for our white stick prize?), awarding a penalty for a foul by Alpay on substitute Luizao some five yards outside of the area. Rivaldo banged home the spot kick.
The referee may have been right though when he sent off Alpay for the foul, but he was way off target a couple of minutes later when he gave Hakan Unsal a second yellow card and consequently a red for kicking the ball at Rivaldo, whose shameful play-acting should have been spotted at least by the linesman who was standing alongside him. Brazil though are let off the hook, and if they build on this win they could go a long way.
Spanish league players: Once again we saw both sides of Rivaldo. He shook off his run of injuries this season to provide another first class performance finishing off with a penalty goal. However he feigned being hit in the face by the ball from Hakan Unsal when TV pictures clearly showed he was hit in the legs, fooling the referee to send the player off. He is a class act and does not need to do that sort of thing. Roberto Carlos was once again on top form, going close with a couple of efforts and running the defence ragged down the left flank, and Denilson came on midway through the second half and delighted the crowd with his jinking runs. Atlético Madrid's Juninho, who returns from loan to Flamengo this summer, played for most of the match. Only one Spanish league player in Turkey's squad, Real Madrid's Nihat, and he didn't get a game.
Over 500 million people, equivalent to the entire population of the EEC and the United States added together (at least according to my schoolboy atlas), crowded round the television sets in China to watch their country take part for the first time in the World Cup finals. It wasn't about winning said one fan, simply about taking part, being there on the world stage together with everyone else. Nobody had any illusions about their ability to get any further than the first stage, even with globe-trotter Bora Milutinovic in charge, and it was just as well as an inexperienced side lost their opening game to a team with very little World cup history themselves, Costa Rica.
The Central Americans had impressed everybody though in their guest appearance in the South American nations cup a few months ago, and they proved that they are worth an outside bet to do well with a comfortable victory. The star of the match was an unknown Ronald Gómez, who opened the scoring on the hour mark when Wanchope's run was blocked. Only four minutes later Gómez latched on to a short corner and swung the ball across for Wright to angle a dipping header into the net for the second goal.
Spanish league players: Currently none, although Ronald Gómez had played in Spain for Hércules and Sporting Gijon in earlier seasons.
As expected a star-studded Brazil easily beat a plucky but naive China in this group C game. Roberto Carlos opened the scoring with a quarter of an hour on the clock with a typical free kick which breached the Chinese wall and found the top corner of the net. Rivaldo was lucky to be playing after the FIFA disciplinary committee let him off his play-acting incident with a small fine, and he celebrated by scoring his team's second after a clever pass in from Ronaldinho. Before the half time whistle Brazil had made it three, defender Li Wei Feng having no alternative but to pull Ronaldo back by his shirt as he advanced on goal, Ronaldinho scoring from the resulting penalty.
Scolari brought on Denilson for Ronaldinho at the break, and Brazil were expected to pile on the misery. But they only got one more, Ronaldo having the easy job of tapping the ball over the line after an excellent run by Cafú down the right wing. China had been fighting throughout though, and they almost got the goal they deserved when nippy substitute Zhao Jun Zhe broke through and sent a shot against the post. Brazil had taken their foot off the accelerator by then though, and although nothing is decided yet, they should go through as group winners and China should be on their way home by the middle of next week.
Spanish league players: A goal each for Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo, who as usual were two of Brazil's star players. Denilson has still not won a place in the starting line up, although he played all the second half.
A game that started slowly built up into a thrilling finale, with both sides desperate to win to improve their chances of staying in the competition. There were more fouls than goalscoring opportunities in the first half, although Centeno for Costa Rica and Sukur for Turkey both went close. Turkey took the lead after the break when Inter Milan's Emre battled through to roll the ball into the corner of the net. Guimaraes made three inspired substitutions though, and with four minutes to go veteran Medford flicked the ball across the goalmouth for youngster Parks to drive the ball into the net.
Lonnis saved from Arif Erdem as Turkey suddenly realised they were in a match, but Parks should have won it for Costa Rica when he rounded Rustu in injury time only to shoot high and wide. There were moments of tension at the end, and Emre was lucky to get away with a yellow card when he lost his nerves and pushed one of the Costa Rica technical staff when he was slow to return the ball, setting off a rumpus amongst the players. A win would have taken Costa Rica through together with Brazil, but they now have to get a result against the South Americans in their last game or hope that Turkey don't beat the already eliminated China by more than one goal.
Spanish league players: Real Sociedad's Nihat made his World cup debut ten minutes from the end. .
Samba is back on the world stage! The odds on Brazil winning another World cup shortened considerably as Scolari's side got into their stride against Latin American rivals Costa Rica. The Central Americans had been one of the revelation teams of the tournament, but they quickly found themselves two down, firstly when Marín deflected a touch on from Ronaldo past his own keeper after Edilson laid the ball in, and then when Ronaldo battled through the defence after a corner to roll the ball past Lonnis.
There was less than a quarter of an hour gone, but Costa Rica settled down and set about getting back into the game which they needed to draw to be sure of reaching the next stage. Wright headed just over, but Edmilson caught them napping with an overhead kick for Brazil's third. Most sides would have given up, but they kept on fighting and after Wanchope pulled one back before the break, Ronald Gómez connected with Centeno's cross to send a diving header past Marcos. Momentarily that took them back above Turkey into second place by virtue of the higher number of goals scored, but Brazil ended their dreams when Rivaldo and then Junior both scored within three minutes of each other.
Spanish league players: Having played less than half the season for Barcelona through injury, Rivaldo now appears to be fully recovered and he got his third goal of the tournament before being replaced by Brazil's new star, the delightfully named Kaka. Roberto Carlos picked up an injury in the last match and was rested as a precaution, and Denilson was not risked either as he was on a yellow card from a previous game.
Turkey made it through to the final 16 on goal difference over Costa Rica after defeating China by a three goal margin. Hasan Sas gave the Turks an early lead after Wu Chengying gave away the ball, and Sas turned provider with less than ten minutes on the clock, crossing over for Bulent Korkmaz to out jump the defence and send a looping header over keeper Jiang Jin. It looked as if it was going to be a rout, but an enthusiastic China came back and Hao Haidong came close to scoring their first goal in the tournament when he hit the post before the break.
In the other group match Costa Rica were fighting back against Brazil, and Turkey needed another to be sure. They were helped Colombian referee Oscar Ruiz when he sent off Shao Jiayi after the break for a foul on Emre on the hour mark, and after Jiang saved from Hakan Sukur, Davila connected with another cross from Sas to shoot in off the post. By now Costa Rica were three down, and Turkey were through. China go home without scoring once but with their pride intact after three gutsy if naive performances, and they will learn from this experience. They will have to progress though with a new coach after globe trotter Bora Multinovic resigned after the game.
Spanish league players: Real Sociedad's Nihat was the only one, and he did not come on in this game.