World Cup post-game: Brazil 0, Portugal 0

Portugal claimed a second-round berth at the FIFA World Cup Friday after battling Brazil to a 0-0 draw in Group G action from Durban, South Africa.
Fabio Coentrao of Portugal, left, challenges Dani Alves of Brazil during the first half of the FIFA World Cup game. ((Lars Baron/Getty Images))

Portugal claimed a second-round berth at the FIFA World Cup Friday after battling Brazil to a 0-0 draw in Group G action from Durban, South Africa.

Brazil, which had already advanced to the Round of 16, finished first in Group G ahead of the Portuguese.

In the other group game Friday, Ivory Coast defeated North Korea 3-0 in Nelspruit.

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Main storyline

When the draw was made for the World Cup last December, soccer fans around the world circled June 25 on their calendars. Brazil vs. Portugal was touted as the marquee matchup of the first round, the one game that had everybody talking.

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It was billed as a battle between two attacking sides loaded with world-class superstars, an entertaining spectacle that would leave fans breathless.

But Mexican referee Benito Archundia had other ideas, brandishing seven yellow cards in a physical match that featured lots of niggling fouls and never really found its rhythm.

It also didn't help matters that Kaka, regarded as one of the best players in the world, was suspended for this encounter, thus depriving the world of a great one-on-one matchup between the Brazilian playmaker and fellow Real Madrid teammate and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Under normal circumstances, the World Cup stage would have brought the best out of Brazil and Portugal, with both sides looking to emerge victorious in this battle of colonial rivals.

But the Brazilians had clinched a spot in the knockout stage with a win earlier in the week, while Portugal had a comfortable goal differential lead over Ivory Coast headed into this match, and needed to lose by a bunch of goals in order to be eliminated.

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It hardly came as a surprise, then, that with little to play for, both teams showed little urgency.

Brazil dominated possession, but the only dangerous scoring opportunity came in the 30th minute when Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo blocked a shot by Brazil's Nilmar against the post.

What this result means

Brazil wins Group G with seven points, ahead of Portugal (five points), Ivory Coast (four points) and North Korea (zero points).

Brazil meets the runner-up from Group H in the next round, while Portugal faces the Group H winner.

Man of the match

Eduardo looked solid in net for Portugal and was called upon to make a good save on Nilmar in the first half.

The Portuguese perspective

"Portugal advanced with merits and now we have to start thinking about our next match. It was a difficult match for Brazil and for us." — Coach Carlos Queiroz

The Brazilian perspective

"Portugal came playing back, trying to use Cristiano Ronaldo on the counterattacks. It was a difficult group so it was good to finish first. Now the hard part begins and we can't lose anymore." — Goalkeeper Julio Cesar