Brazil down Cote d'Ivoire, New Zealand hold Italy

09:54, June 21, 2010      

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Kaka of Brazil (C) runs with the ball during the Group G soccer match against Ivory Coast at 2010 FIFA World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 20, 2010. (Xinhua/Yang Lei)

Luis Fabiano found the net twice to help Brazil beat Cote d'Ivoire 3-1 as defending champs Italy were held 1-1 by New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup on Sunday.

With six points from two wins, the five-time winners have qualified for the knockout stage as the second team after the Netherlands made it to the last 16 on Saturday.

Robinho's volley at the first minute, which flew over the bar, foretold a pulsating night at Johannesburg's Soccer City.

Brazil opened their account at the 25th minute as Fabiano received from Kaka and fired into the roof of the net from eight yards.

Fabiano's second goal at the 50th minute was dubious. He was suspected of handling before beating two defenders and slamming home with his left foot at the 50th minute.

"The ball hit my hand and then shoulder," said Fabiano, the Man of the Match, in the post-game press conference. "It was an involuntary handball and the goal was legitimate. It is the most beautiful goal in my career."

Brazil was 3-0 up at the hour mark as Kaka sprinted down the left and crossed to Elano, who scored his second goal in the 2010 World Cup.

Didier Drogba pulled one back for the Africans at the 79th minute as the Chelsea forward headed home an inch-perfect cross from Toure Yaya.

Kaka was kicked out for a second booking after he collided with Kader Keita off the ball. Referee Stephane Lannoy of France, who didn't see the incident, sent off the Real Madrid man.

"It was an unjustified sending-off," said Brazil coach Dunga. "Kaka was fouled and punished. I want to congratulate the player who fouled but didn't get yellow card."

Cote d'Ivoire coach Sven Goran Eriksson said Kaka deserved the yellow card because he pushed his player.

A gallant Kiwi side held Italy to a historic draw as Paraguay topped Group F with a 2-0 trouncing of Slovakia in other two matches on Sunday.

With the memorable draw in Nelspruit, New Zealand tied Italy with two points on the board in which Slovakia ended up last with one.

The Azzurri pressed hard for the three points in an action-packed game, but the All Whites were solid and could have grabbed a win had 18-year-old Chris Wood not delivered a late left-foot shot just wide of the post.

Italy, who lost creative AC Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo to injuries, will have to beat Slovakia on Thursday to make it to the last 16.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert threw in three strikers in a daring line-up which paid dividends with the opening goal inside seven minutes.

Simon Elliott delivered a strong free kick which was flicked on by defender Winston Reid. Instead of clearing the threat, Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro cushioned the ball to the path of Shane Smeltz, who scored his 20th goal in 37 caps past Federiico Marchetti, the replacement of injured Gianluigi Buffon.

At the 29th minute, Tommy Smith was booked for pulling down Daniele De Rossi in the penalty area. Vincenzo Iaquinta stepped up to level the scores for Italy.

The second straight draw for the Azzurri laid bare the lack of talent in the current squad which ignored creative forward Antonio Cassano.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi refused to accept he had left more talented players home.

"I am absolutely convinced there are no phenomenons that I left at home," Lippi said.

"We have players who have personality, players who have proved it in the championship. We have the Serie A top scorer of 29 goals in Antonio Di Natale."

In an earlier Group F game, held in Bloemfontein, Paraguay moved closer to a last 16 spot with a convincing victory over Slovakia.

A beautiful goal by Enrique Vera put the South Americans ahead and Carlos Riveros killed the game with a brilliant late strike.

Slovakia are on the brink of elimination as they end their group action against a hungry Italian side.

For most of the first half, Paraguay attacked at will and their first goal came in the 27th minute when Lucas Barrios split the defence with a superb pass and Enrique Vera struck the ball into the corner of the goal.

Riveros completed Paraguay's tally in the 86th minute, blasting home from the edge of the box.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino called his side "deserved winners", saying "we are feeling quite calm but very happy too."

Special Report: World Cup 2010


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