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World Cup
Finals
 
16 June 1998 Group A Nantes - Stade de La Beaujoire
Brazil Morocco
Ronaldo came of age in Nantes this evening when he scored his first goal in the world cup finals, also sending his country into the second round as winners of Group A - the first team through to that stage. His early strike, set up by Rivaldo's incisive pass, settled any early nerves the Brazilians might have had and allowed them to play the match at the pace they wanted. Ronaldo's goal, after nine minutes was just reward for the World Champions as Leonardo had seen his second minute effort ruled out, incorrectly, for offside. The Moroccan defence was hard pressed to contain Ronaldo and Bebeto, and stretched even further with the marauding runs of full-backs Cafu and Roberto Carlos. It was no surprise, when in first half added time Rivaldo connected with Cafu's low cross to put his side two up. The second half opened with the Moroccans pressing the play more quickly, but this backfired almost immediately. Moroccan full-back Saber got caught in possession by Ronaldo and the Inter Milan striker attracted the 'keeper Benzekri from his line before crossing for striking partner Bebeto to tap home. The gulf in class between the two sides was highlighted throughout the second period as the Brazilians took it in turns to show off their individual party pieces. First Rivaldo, then Ronaldo, Cafu and Leonardo juggling with the ball and leaving the Moroccans chasing shadows. But to their credit, the North Africans never gave up and pressed forward whenever the opportunity arose, but never really threatening Taffarel's goal. The main downside for Brazilian coach Mario Zagallo was the booking to central defender Cesar Sampaio, his second of the tournament, which means he will automatically be banned from the last group game against Norway. With their position as group winners now assured, the fans of the Samba boys can look forward to a second round game in Paris on June 27.

(1-0) Ronaldo (9). Rivaldo received the ball from Bebeto just inside the Moroccan half and sent his pass over the top of the defence where Ronaldo, allowing the ball to drop, hit a wonderful right-footed, first-time volley across the 'keeper Benzekri and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net from the edge of the box.

(2-0) Rivaldo (45). A neat interchange of passes between Cafu and Bebeto allowed the Brazilian full-back into the space behind the Moroccan defence, Cafu's low cross evaded the back tracking defenders and was met by Rivaldo seven yards out, his left-footed shot went through 'keeper Benzekri's hands and into the net.

(3-0) Bebeto (50). Moroccan full-back Saber stumbled on the ball allowing Ronaldo to steal possession, the Inter Milan forward stole down on goal, drawing the 'keeper and defenders towards him before releasing his slide-rule pass across the six-yard box for fellow striker Bebeto to tap the ball home right-footed.

 
 
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Page created by Christakis Ioannou on Wednesday, 17 June 1998
 
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