World Cup champion
Brazil overwhelmed European champion Greece 3-0 on Thursday in the
Confederations Cup, while Mexico stayed unbeaten in 19 games by rallying
to beat Asian champion Japan.
With both Brazil and Greece near full strength, the Brazilians dominated
on goals by Adriano, Robinho and substitute Juninho Pernambucano.
In the other Group B match, Mexico rallied to beat Asian champion Japan
2-1 on goals from Zinha and Jose Fonseca. Atsushi Yanagisawa scored
early for Japan.
Mexico is almost certain to qualify for the World Cup finals from the
The eight-team Confederations Cup is a low-key prelude to the next
year's World Cup finals in Germany. But there was nothing laid-back
about Brazil's win.
"For an opening game, I'm satisfied with our performance," Brazil coach
Carlos Alberto Parreira said. "The balance was very good today.
Everybody did his job, we played as a team.
"We've still got a lot to do before the World Cup, but it was very
Brazil pressed for most of the first half before Adriano broke through
with a spectacular goal in the 41st. Standing on the right wing, he
faked left and right, and then stepped into a left-footed shot that went
in from 25 yards out – squeezing in between Greece goalkeeper Antonis
Nikopolidis and the post to his left.
Only 40 seconds into the second half, Brazil's Robinho made it 2-0.
After missing several chances in the first half, he scored coming down
the right side, knocking the ball in off a pass from Gilberto.
Juninho entered in the 77th, and scored four minutes later on a 25-yard
free kick that curled in high to Nikopolidis' right.
"It's a big thing just to be here. We did what we could," Greece captain
Theodoros Zagorakis said. "We could have done better but it was a great
experience for us."
Brazil was missing only fullbacks Cafu and Roberto Carlos and striker
Ronaldo. All three are being rested.
Greece was also nearly at full strength, featuring 18 players from last
summer's European Championship team.
Mexico's win over Japan gives it a chance to make the semifinals.
After Yanagisawa gave the Asian champions a 1-0 lead in the 12th, Mexico
finally cracked the Japanese defense. Antonio Naelson, known as Zinha,
made it 1-1 in the 39th on a spectacular 22-yard drive.
Slightly to the left side of the pitch, the midfielder drove a
right-footed shot into the far corner that went in over the outstretched
arms of Japan goalie Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.
Fonseca put the match away with his header in the 64th minute, scoring
off a cross from the left wing.
"It was a good win for us," Mexico coach Ricardo Lavolpe said. "We are
one year away from the World Cup, so it is very good for the team to
play strong teams.
"Maybe we were surprised by their speed and touches on the ball, so you
have to give them a big hand. But we got stronger as the game went along."
Mexico was playing without injured FC Barcelona defender Rafa Marquez.
Several players from club team Chivas also sat out after arriving
following Tuesday's Copa Libertadores match.
Japan has already qualified for the World Cup finals, but coach Zico
said there had been no letdown by his players.
"The players are very motivated," Zico said. "There may have been some
emotional impact from the big game, but I don't think it (already
qualifying) made much difference in the game."
There are no games scheduled for Friday, but Germany faces Tunisia and
Australia plays Argentina on Saturday in Group A. On Sunday in Group B,
it's Brazil vs. Mexico and Greece vs. Japan.