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TBT: Ronaldinho Chip Ends England Hopes

This week’s Throwback Thursday looks back one of the most famous goals in recent history, Ronaldinho’s chip over England goalkeeper David Seaman.

England’s 2002 World Cup campaign was brought to an abrupt halt as 10-man Brazil triumphed in the Shizuoka quarter-final. Goals from Rivaldo and Ronaldinho either side of halftime cancelled out a thrilling opener from Michael Owen, which had given English fans hope of recording a famous victory over the eventual champions.

Emile Heskey’s through-ball wasn’t cleared by Lucio and suddenly Owen, playing in his second World Cup, was in on goal and chipped Marcos in style. Rivaldo, whose form had been building ominously throughout the tournament, took advantage of a bout of indecision from Sol Campbell to stroke home a left-foot finish from a Ronaldinho pass.

A famous blunder from David Seaman handed Brazil the winner, as Ronaldinho’s speculative chipped free-kick caught the veteran Arsenal goalkeeper flat-footed, wandering off his line and offering the space to score off the underside of the bar.

Brazil managed to survive the controversial dismissal of the game’s central figure Ronaldinho and deservedly won to become the first team to reach the last four. The PSG attacker had left his foot in on a tackle on England’s Danny Mills, but rather than produce the yellow card that the tackle deserved, referee Felipe Ramos Rizo opted for dismissal.

For England, it was the familiar story of being left to consider what might have been. While few had even anticipated progression from a group stage that featured perennial favourites Argentina, to go from a position of being a goal up, with the prospect of a winnable semi-final against Turkey or Senegal, to eventually losing to 10 men was bitterly disappointing.

When the Football Association appointed Sven Goran Eriksson it was made clear that the present tournament would merely be a prelude to what England hope to achieve in Germany in 2006. The long-term ambition was to build a side capable of winning the World Cup not now but four years hence.

Presumably eventual triumph is still the aim. But the likelihood of an England side again finding itself so close to the final with the likes of Argentina, France and Italy already eliminated would appear to be slim. The prize was there for England to grasp this time but for a variety of reasons they could not get a grip on it. After promising to stride to the last four in seven-league boots they crept out of the World Cup in Hush Puppies.

Maybe Eriksson’s side had overreached itself. Even if Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville had not been injured and David Beckham had been fully match fit the team would still be short on World Cup experience and stronger on industry than inventiveness.

Either way, the outcome was bitterly disappointed given what could have been.

Jack Leahy, Pundit Arena.


England: Seaman, Mills, Campbell, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Scholes, Butt, Sinclair, Owen, Heskey.

Subs: Bridge, Brown, Joe Cole, Dyer, Fowler, Hargreaves, James, Keown, Martyn, Sheringham, Southgate, Vassell.

Brazil: Marcos, Roque Junior, Lucio, Edmilson, Cafu, Gilberto, Ronaldinho, Kleberson, Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo.

Subs: Belleti, Ceni, Denilson, Dida, Edilson, Juninho Paulista, Junior, Kaka, Luizao, Polga, Ricardinho, Vampeta.

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