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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Debut, Russia Falls Hard to Brazil

PALO ALTO, California --The Brazilian soccer team's debut against Russia in the World Cup on Monday resembled one of those old Western movies, where the cavalry keeps charging and charging and charging. To Russian goalie Dmitry Kharine, it must have seemed like a team of hundreds, rather than the normal handful of attackers. That Kharine allowed only two goals in Brazil's 2-0 victory is commendable, considering that most of the 15 other shots Brazil took were viable, close-in scoring chances. He in fact allowed just one goal during continual play -- that to Romario -- and another on a penalty kick to Rai, after a Russian defenseman actually was called for one of the frequent muggings they were performing on Brazil's forwards. Asked if he felt he had had a chance to stop Romario's goal, which came in the 26th minute off a corner kick from Bebeto and was achieved despite Russian defender Vladislav Temavsky grabbing everything but Romario's car keys, Kharine said, "I guess you could say I had a chance, but it was Romario." In other words, this was no mere mortal he was being asked to stop. "If we had Romario and Bebeto in the attack, we would have been the winners," Russian coach Pavel Sadyrin said with a bitter laugh. Not only are the Brazilians expected to win the World Cup, but they are expected to do so convincingly. At least that's the expectation of their followers who have a fanaticism perhaps unlike any other in the world. They wear yellow shirts, they chant and bang drums for hours before the match and hours after it. And they travel worldwide, turning most Brazilian games into Brazilian home games. Monday, they flooded the streets and neighborhoods around the stadium before the match, waving their flags, singing their songs and teasing the traffic cops. Then they poured into the stadium for the game, where attendance was announced at 81,061. All of this showed clearly in the aftermath of Monday's win. Brazil had dominated, outclassed and totally defeated the Russians. Coach Sadyrin said, "It is always bad to lose, but today, it was more explainable." In other words, Brazil is so good, it is OK to lose to them. Netherlands 2, Saudi Arabia 1. In Monday's only other World Cup match, Saudi Arabia almost made history repeat itself for the Dutch. For 31 minutes in the Group F game against the Netherlands, the underdog from the Middle East sent four-year flashbacks through the minds of the "Oranje." In the 1990 World Cup, the Netherlands opened the first round with a 1-1 tie against modest Egypt. And even after the Dutch tied the score five minutes into the second half, they did not achieve their 2-1 victory until Gaston Taument's goal four minutes before the game ended. For the first half, after Fuad Amin gave Saudi Arabia a 1-0 lead 19 minutes into the match, it did not appear as if the Dutch would have a choice. Order was restored in the second half, as Wim Jonk got the equalizer in the 50th minute and substitute forward Taument took advantage of a blunder by Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Mohammed Al Deyea to head the decisive goal into an open net with less than five minutes to go. "Saudi Arabia played better in the first 30 minutes," Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat said, "but the second half was totally different." (LAT, AP, Baltimore Sun, Reuters)