Brazil crowned world champions

 

Two goals from Ronaldo secured the World Cup for Brazil as they claimed a deserved victory over Germany in the final in Yokohama.The Inter Milan star struck twice in the second half to settle an entertaining contest.It is the fifth time Brazil have won football's ultimate prize, cementing their status as the most successful team in the history of the competition.

A World Cup of shocks finished in familiar fashion - with wild celebrations among the gold-clad South American players and fans.Brazil captain Cafu, who became the first player to appear in three successive finals, accepted the trophy in an emotional prize-giving ceremony.The victory completed a remarkable journey for Luiz Felipe Scolari's team, who had been written off before the World Cup following a poor qualification campaign.

Ronaldo confirmed his reputation as the world's best striker by winning the Golden Boot award for the tournament's leading scorer with eight goals.It was a story of personal retribution for Ronaldo, who made up for his anonymous display in the final four years ago when France beat Brazil 3-0.

But Ronaldo's two goals in the final here Sunday laid to rest his nightmare of four years ago once and for all - and also saw him finish the World Cup as top-scorer with eight goals in seven matches to win the coveted Golden Boot.

"It's a fantastic feeling to be a Brazilian tonight," an overjoyed Ronaldo said. "The whole squad has worked very hard. I worked for two and a half years to be here tonight.

"Slowly, slowly I am starting to understand what has happened," Ronaldo said later at a press conference. "It will take time but I am so happy right now. We played a great game and we have given joy to millions of people."

"Even in my wildest dreams I had never imagined that something like this could happen.

"I would be lying if I did not say that every time I step on the pitch, every time I score a goal and every time I enter a ground to play, it is a victory for me.

"Just to be here is such a huge step for me. Even if I was not a world champion I would still be happy."

Ronaldo had helped create his first goal, robbing German midfielder Dietmar Hamann before releasing Barcelona ace Rivaldo near the edge of the German penalty area.

With Germany's defence backing off, Rivaldo unleashed a venomous low shot that German captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn failed to handle on the slick turf, leaving Ronaldo with the simple task of tapping in.

Twelve minutes later Ronaldo put the result beyond doubt with a cracker.

Kleberson broke clear down the right and crossed near the edge of the area. Rivaldo's dummy over the ball sold Thomas Linke, and Ronaldo gathered and controlled before drilling a perfectly placed shot past Kahn.

Ronaldo was substituted in the final minute for Denilson, leaving the field to ringing applause from the 73,000 crowd, the vast majority of whom had roared on Brazil throughout.

At the whistle the Brazilians erupted, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari dancing with joy and mobbing Ronaldo before the team stepped up to the victory podium to receive the famous trophy as the legendary Pele looked on.

Captain Cafu - whose selection made him the first man to play in three World Cup finals - stood alone on a raised dais holding the trophy to the heavens as his team-mates celebrated before going on a euphoric lap of honour carrying a giant Brazilian flag.

Brazil's win was also a personal triumph for coach Scolari. Last year he had been accused of betraying Brazil's footballing heritage, favouring a brutal, tough-tackling approach over their more traditional attacking style during an unconvincing qualifying campaign.

"It is a great feeling that Brazil are world champions. I share in the happiness and the joy that the Brazilian people are feeling right now," Scolari said.

"We feel joy at knowing we did our job - but it was hard work. Nobody could truly have imagined this," said the 53-year-old.

Scolari's German counterpart Rudi Voller hailed Brazil as worthy champions, saying the individual class of the South Americans had been too much for his side in the end.

"We played very well in the first 35 minutes and we felt we were controlling the game," said Voller. "But as the game went on, we saw their great individual talent, they are so strong in one-on-one situations and in quick passing and that began to give us more and more problems.

"There's no doubt that Brazil are worthy world champions."

German keeper Kahn was furious with himself after making his first mistake of the tournament in failing to hold Rivaldo's shot for the first goal.

"Of course it's really frustrating when you make your one mistake of the whole tournament and you get punished like that," said the 33-year-old, widely regarded as the world's best goalkeeper.

"It's normal to make a mistake - but it's ten times worse when it comes in the final. You have to hold onto such a ball. Nothing can console me about that - but life goes on."

Germany had gone into the final as heavy underdogs in what was a first ever World Cup meeting with Brazil.

They went close to taking the lead early in the second half, when only some fine goalkeeping and defending denied them, Jens Jeremies' header blocked before Neuville saw a thunderous 30-yard free-kick pushed onto the post by Brazil keeper Marcos.

But that was as close as Germany got.

Brazil had earlier recovered from a slow start to carve out the best openings of the first half, which saw two players, Brazil's Roque Junior and Germany's Miroslav Klose, booked by Italian referee Pierluigi Collina in the opening nine minutes.

Kleberson sent a curling shot from outside the area crashing against the crossbar with Kahn beaten, and Ronaldo's shot on the turn from eight yards was also blocked well by Kahn.

Until then Germany had looked the more threatening of the two sides, with the lively Bernd Schneider finding acres of space down Brazil's left-hand flank behind fullback Roberto Carlos.

Tackling and hustling the Brazilians tirelessly, Germany enjoyed plenty of possession but it was the South Americans who had the better chances of the half, with Ronaldo seeing three chances go begging.

He should have done better when released on the edge of the penalty area thanks to a sweet pass by Ronaldinho, back in the Brazil side after serving a one-match suspension. With Kahn advancing, Ronaldo's finish with the outside of his left foot rolled a full metre wide.

Kahn was on hand to thwart Ronaldo again on 30 minutes, getting a hand to the Brazilian's toe-poked effort after another clever pass from Ronaldinho caught out the German defence.

But he was to make no mistake after the break, to give Brazil secured another World Cup to set alongside victories in 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994.

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