Portugal progress after draw
Brazil top group and Portugal through after goalless stalemate
Last Updated: June 25, 2010 5:48pm
Stalemate: Fabio Coentrao and Dani Alves tussle for the ball
Brazil and Portugal played out a disappointing goalless stalemate in Group G which ensured both sides progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Brazil, who had already qualified before kick-off, had the better of the early exchanges and Dani Alves blasted just wide of the right post from distance.
On the half hour mark, Nilmar's close range effort from Luis Fabiano's cross was pushed on to the bar by keeper Eduardo, while Fabiano then went close with a header before half-time.
In the second period, Raul Meireles almost broke the deadlock but Brazil keeper Julio Cesar saved his effort, while Eduardo denied Ramires at the death.
The draw means Brazil finish the group as leaders, while Portugal got the point they needed to claim second ahead of the Ivory Coast, who defeated North Korea 3-0.
The Brazilians will play the runners-up of Group H in their next game while Portugal will take on the winners from that pool.
Much was expected from the match at a packed Moses Mabhida stadium with both sides possessing plenty of flair.
But despite an electric atmosphere with the Brazilian fans far outnumbering the Portuguese supporters, there was little action on the pitch, apart from seven cards in the first half.
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz made four changes to the side that thrashed North Korea 7-0, while the Brazilians were without suspended Kaka and injured Elano in midfield.
As expected, Julio Baptista replaced Kaka while coach Dunga surprisingly left Robinho out of the starting XI and opted to play Nilmar alongside Fabiano up front.
Brazil earned two corners in the opening minutes and had the first chance in the fifth minute when Dani Alves' right-footed strike from 25 yards went wide of the near post.
Brazil tried to loosen up the Portuguese defence but they did not seem to have any sense of urgency to test Eduardo.
In the 14th minute, Cesar did well to punch away Fabio Coentrao's dangerous cross towards the box.
Shortly after, Alves tried his luck from the distance and his central effort was saved by the Portugal goalkeeper.
At the other end, Tiago's volley from the edge of the area went over the bar.
Midway through the first half, Juan was shown a yellow card after a hand ball to stop a Portuguese counter-attack.
Brazil almost went in front soon after when Fabiano fed Nilmar at the far post and his five-yard shot was deflected by Eduardo's palm on to the post.
At the other end, Tiago was booked for diving.
In the 38th minute, Fabiano latched on to Maicon's cross from the right and his header went just wide of the near post.
Brazil goalkeeper Cesar had one save to make in the opening half with Ronaldo's 40th-minute strike not causing the Inter Milan man any problems.
Portugal came to life in the second half and Lucio was forced to make a crucial clearance from Ronaldo's cross with Danny waiting inside the area.
Before the hour mark, Meireles' effort from five yards was well saved by Cesar following a great run from Ronaldo.
In the 73rd minute, Alves' 30-yard strike went wide while three minutes from time Lucio's header was saved by Eduardo.
Substitute Ramires almost earned Brazil victory but his deflected right-footed strike was denied by an acrobatic save from Eduardo in stoppage time.
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FIFA World Cup Group A
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FIFA World Cup Group C
FIFA World Cup Group D
FIFA World Cup Group E
FIFA World Cup Group F
FIFA World Cup Group G
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