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Brazil Advances, Italy Held To Another World Cup Draw
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June 21, 2010

Paraguay's Enrique Vera celebrates after scoring during the World Cup group F soccer match between Slovakia and Paraguay at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Sunday, June 20, 2010. (Associated Press)
Johannesburg - The most accomplished teams in World Cup history went in different directions, with five-time champion Brazil advancing to the second round and four-time winner Italy tying with supposedly outmanned New Zealand.

Although Brazil wasn't exactly magical in a sometimes-brutal and highly physical match with Ivory Coast, it got two goals from Luis Fabiano on Sunday for a 3-1 victory. That boosted the Brazilians into the next round out of Group G.

Italy wasn't pleased at all with the latest surprising result at this year's World Cup, held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand, ranked 78th in the world. The defending champion Italians got their only goal in the Group F match in Nelspruit from the penalty spot, further exposing the team's lack of finishing power up front.

In the other group match, Paraguay beat Slovakia 2-0 in Bloemfontein.

At Soccer City, Luis Fabiano scored two goals and Elano added the Brazilians dominated possession for most of the match.

Luis Fabiano gave Brazil the lead in the 25th minute with a hard shot from close range that easily beat Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry. He added another in the 50th, but twice handled the ball on the play.

"It's difficult to deal with Fabiano, but it's even more difficult if he's allowed to use his hands," Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. "They got a goal free. That's a 2-nil goal that changed everything."

Luis Fabiano later admitted to the hand ball.

"It's true, the ball really touched my hand and then my shoulder," Luis Fabiano said. "But it was involuntary. It was one of the greatest goals I've scored in my career."

Elano scored the third goal in the 62nd, but Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba pulled one back in the 79th with a header. Elano was carried off on a stretcher just a few minutes later with an ankle injury after a tough tackle.

Kaka was sent off with two yellow cards, the second coming in the 88th minute after Kader Keita ran into the Brazil playmaker and then fell to the ground clutching his face.

"The red card was completely unfair," Brazil coach Dunga said.

Kaka will be suspended for the next match, with Portugal.

Drogba was playing in his second game since breaking his right arm in a warmup match on June 4. He came on as a late substitute in Ivory Coast's 0-0 draw with Portugal on Tuesday.

New Zealand took the early lead against Italy when Shane Smeltz tapped in a ball that glanced off defender Fabio Cannavaro as the Italian captain was falling. It was New Zealand's only shot on goal the entire match.

Vincenzo Iaquinta equalized in the 29th from the penalty spot after Tommy Smith brought down Daniele De Rossi in the area.

"Once again the opponent scored on their first chance," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said. "We were able to control the game after that, but this was a match we should have won."

New Zealand is playing in only its second World Cup. The Kiwis lost all three matches in 1982, but have two points from two matches this time the same as Italy.

"I think that stopped the nation," New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert said. "It's the most incredible result we've had across the board. As a football coach, it's way above anything we've achieved in the history of the game."

All four teams in Group F remain alive.

Enrique Vera and Cristian Riveros each scored for Paraguay, which leads the group with four points after an opening 1-1 draw with the Italians.

Vera scored the first goal in the 27th minute, taking a pass from Lucas Barrios and slipping it past Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha.

"It was lucky that I could score," said Vera, the man of the match. "The first goal came at the best moment in the first half and then we wanted to keep possession of the ball, and the second goal made us calm."

Riveros added the second goal in the 86th with a left-footed shot.

In France's camp, chaos erupted again as the players refused to train in protest against Nicolas Anelka being thrown off the squad.

Anelka directed a profanity-laced tirade at coach Raymond Domenech, and after refusing to apologize, was booted from the team.

The players said in a statement read by Domenech that the French federation did not try to protect the group.

France team director Jean-Louis Valentin resigned amid the trouble.

"It's a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It's a scandal for the federation and the French team," Valentin said. "They don't want to train. It's unacceptable.

"As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted," said Valentin, who walked away from the training field, got into a car and drove off.

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