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Sports

Brazil survives Group of Death and advances to Round of 16

Luis Fabiano led the charge for a top-form Brazil against the Ivory Coast in Johannesburg on Sunday night. Fabiano's two goals propelled Brazil to the win and into the knock-out round of the World Cup.

Luis Fabiano scores a goal

Man of the Match Luis Fabiano

Brazil's 3-1 victory over the Ivory Coast in Johannesburg on Sunday night showed glimmers of why Brazil is a perennial World Cup favorite. The Brazilians appear to be finding their stride in the tournament, and in this game, Luis Fabiano was in the lead. He scored two goals and helped propel Brazil into the next round.

Fabiano's first goal was orchestrated by passes from Robinho and Kaka. Fabiano found himself free to the side of the goal with only the keeper to beat. Boubacar Barry was in good position for the Ivory Coast, but Fabiano simply blasted the shot over the keeper's head into the top of the net to score.

Fives minutes into the second half, Fabiano displayed some Brazilian flair for his second goal of the match. He beat two defenders with light taps on the ball to send it over their heads, then controlled the pass to himself with his chest and fired away to score.

However, television replays showed Fabiano's upper arm appeared to help him get the ball under control before he shot. The ball also glanced off his hand at the start of the play.

Elano scores a goal

Elano and Fabiano both have 2 goals in this World Cup

Brazil rounded out its victory seven minutes later, as Kaka sent a pass from near the end line back to midfielder Elano, who surprised a sleeping Ivorian defence and scored the easy goal.

The Ivory Coast's striker Didier Drogba pulled one back for his side in the 79th minute. Following a long, solo run, Gervinho was caught by the Brazilian defence and forced to pass away to Yaya Toure. Toure sent a perfect pass into the middle where Drogba used a long header to put away the consolation goal.

The final ten minutes of the game were quite physical, with several fouls being given and some heated words exchanged between players. Kaka was booked in the 88th minute for his second foul of the game and sent off the pitch. The midfielder will miss Brazil's next match against Portugal, which is merely a formality as the win against the Ivory Coast secures Brazil's place in the next round.

Group F remains close

For a few days at least, Group F of the World Cup was a nice, tidy four-way tie. In the group's first two matches, all four teams drew 1-1 with each other, giving them all one point and a goal differential of zero. That deadlock was bound to be broken - Paraguay took the initiative, beating Slovakia 2-0 on Sunday afternoon - but the group is still very tight as defending champs Italy only managed a draw against group-underdogs New Zealand.

Shane Smeltz

Smeltz and the Kiwis were more than happy with a draw against Italy

The All Whites surprised Italy by taking the lead in the 7th minute. Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro failed to clear a free kick, which left New Zealand's Shane Smeltz free to tap in the goal.

The Kiwi's dreams of an upset win over the World Cup title holders didn't last long, though. Italy was awarded a penalty kick in the 29th minute when Daniele De Rossi fell in a tussle with New Zealand's Tommy Smith in the box. The ref showed Smith a yellow card and pointed to the penalty spot. Vincenzo Iaquinta took the kick to pull Italy even with New Zealand.

Although Italy had the advantage for more or less the rest of the game, they failed to create scoring opportunities and are now level with New Zealand on points in Group F.

Paraguay takes the lead

Paraguay's players celebrate a goal

Paraguay is in a good position at the top of the group

By only managing a draw against New Zealand, Italy faces some pressure heading into their last group match against Slovakia. A win would secure a spot in the Round of 16, but a draw could leave them exposed to being bounced should New Zealand continue to surprise and come up with a win or a high-scoring draw against Paraguay.

The South American team, however, looked strong in their 2-0 win against Slovakia that sent them to the top of the group.

Enrique Vera opened the scoring for Paraguay in the 27th minute, taking a precise pass from Lucas Barrios and slipping a shot through two defenders and into the goal.

Toward the end of the game, Paraguay added its second goal for good measure as Cristian Riveros cleaned up a loose ball on the edge of the box and booted it past Slovakian keeper Jan Mucha.

Slovakia only had one shot on goal the entire game, and their best chance to score came in the 37th minute when defender Kornel Salata headed a corner over the goal.

Author: Matt Zuvela

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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