'Three Rs' add chapter to football history

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Brazil's three Rs – Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho accounted for 15 of Brazil's tournament-high 18 goals and some of the World Cup most brilliant moments.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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They should call this team Brrrazil. The 'Three Rs' - Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho - added a chapter to Brazil's glittering soccer history, crowned by a 2-0 victory over Germany on Sunday that gave the sport's most dominant team an unprecedented fifth World Cup title. Perhaps the most talented offense in years, the trio was too much for everyone at this tournament. The three accounted for 15 of Brazil's tournament-high 18 goals and some of the World Cup most brilliant moments. Against Germany, Rivaldo and Ronaldo teamed up twice to beat the tournament's best goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, who had allowed only one goal in the six previous matches. In the 67th minute, Rivaldo unleashed a left-footed blast that bounced off Kahn's chest, and Ronaldo streaked in to tap it home for a 1-0 lead. Twelve minutes later, Kleberson crossed from the right to Rivaldo, and the Barcelona striker let the ball pass, dismantling the defense. It rolled to Ronaldo, who stroked it home from 12 metres out to ice the game. Ronaldo's eight goals in the tournament gave him the Golden Boot award as high scorer and were the highest total in a World Cup since 1970, when Brazil won its third Cup. Rivaldo added five goals, while Ronaldinho had two and an epic game against England that will figure prominently in Brazil's rich archive of World Cup lore. But it was more than goals, victories and the title. The Three Rs revived the "art soccer'' that many Brazilians had defended against critics who called it outdated and inefficient. For Ronaldo, the Cup was a personal renaissance. When coach Luiz Felipe Scolari named him to the squad in May, many were openly skeptical that the 25-year-old Inter striker could hold up after a two-year absence for knee surgery. Ronaldo worked hard to regain his form, often staying after practice to run laps or work on his finishing. Slowly, his speed and timing came back, and each game was better than the last. "I've worked for two and a half years to come back from this injury," he said. "The goals crowned our effort". Rivaldo, also recovering from a knee ligament injury when the Cup began, at last dispelled the notion that he saves his best for his Barcelona club and doesn't deliver on the national team. Relieved of his playmaking chores and free to create, Rivaldo blossomed. He scored in each of the first five games, including a highlight-reel strike to lead Brazil in a 2-0 win over Belgium. The victory over three-time champion Germany was satisfying, he said, but Brazil had already proved its merit in the Cup. "It could have been South Korea, Japan, Turkey," he said. "People would respect Brazil's victory". Ronaldinho, 22, is the firm's junior partner and its future. A season with Paris Saint-Germain added strength and defense to his wizardly ball-handling skills. His standout play saved Brazil's qualifying campaign, and the trio was complete. After a slow start at the Cup, Ronaldinho broke out in a 2-1 quarterfinal win against England. His weaving 40-metre run set up Rivaldo for the first score, and he added the winner on a pinpoint free kick into the upper corner from 30 metres out. Four years ago, Ronaldinho was 18 and watched on television as Brazil lost 3-0 to France in the Cup final. While Ronaldo and Rivaldo were settling old scores, the third "R" was starting something new. "It wasn't revenge," he said. "It was the fulfillment of a dream". (AP)

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