Brazil bring samba to Leicester

Leicester, England - Roberto Carlos scored early in the first half as World Cup champions Brazil beat Jamaica 1-0 before a sellout crowd of 32 000 in Leicester on Sunday.

Roberto Carlos sliced a shot past Donovan Ricketts from the edge of the box in the 15th minute.

Brazil played the game as preparation for a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifiers, choosing a European venue because most of their first team play club soccer on the continent.

Except for injured Barcelona midfielder Ronaldinho, all the big names were in action.

Ricketts was the busiest player, as the South Americans dominated. He stopped three-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo three times alone. His best save came in the 70th minute when Roma's Cafu broke in on the left side and cut to the middle. Ronaldo took the pass, beat a defender, then shot low, and Ricketts made a diving stop.

Fans held their breath minutes later as a trademark Roberto Carlos free kick from 30m beat the wall, but went straight at the Jamaican keeper.

Jamaica chose to counter-attack and Damani Ralph came close to tapping in a cross in the 68th.

Brazil's rising AC Milan star Kaka had his fierce left-footed shot saved in the eighth minute.

Ronaldo was in all alone, but could only manage a weak shot in the 12th minute. He also shot softly at Ricketts in the 28th, and the Real Madrid star was centimetres short of making contact with Emerson's 38th-minute cross.

Rivaldo, played in by a perfectly-weighted Roberto Carlos pass, shot over the bar in the 43rd, and Ricketts stopped a fierce Juninho freekick late in the second half.

Rivaldo, who said earlier this week he was offered a contract by Tottenham Hotspur in 2002, received warm applause when he was substituted.

Brazil hadn't played in England for three years, and there was a joyous atmosphere. Many fans wore Brazil shirts and some draped themselves in Brazilian flags. They shouted "Brazil, Brazil" as a samba band played outside before the game.

Players from both teams received applause when the squads were announced, but the cheers were almost deafening when Ronaldo's name was called.

"As soon as I found out they were playing here, the first thing I did was buy tickets on the Internet," said Carlos Sturm, a 23-year-old Brazilian studying in England. - Sapa-AP.


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