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   June 26, 2002 | 2030 IST


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Finals clash, a date with history

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Ronaldo drove the 72-year-old World Cup into uncharted territory on Wednesday when his second-half goal clinched Brazil a 1-0 semi-final victory over Turkey and a place in Sunday's final against Germany.

Astonishingly, three-times winners Germany have never played four-times champions Brazil at the tournament despite the fact that the countries has been involved in every final since World War Two apart from the 1978 Argentina-Netherlands clash.

But Ronaldo's superb run and finish four minutes into the second half ended Turkey's remarkable run to the last four and set up a showdown between the two most successful nations in the history of the game in the Japanese city of Yokohama.

The goal was Ronaldo's sixth of the finals making him the highest scorer. It marks a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the striker who failed to live up to expectations when the Brazilians lost to France 3-0 in the 1998 final in Paris.

The Turks, playing in only their second World Cup, started the tournament at 66-1 to win the trophy. They had their chances to cause an upset in the Saitama clash but Brazil, 2-1 victors over the Turks in the group stage, deserved their victory.

Germany, champions in 1954, 1974 and 1990, reached the final with a 1-0 defeat of co-hosts South Korea in Seoul on Tuesday.


Both the Brazilians, champions in 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994, and the Germans will be appearing in their seventh final.

Brazil go into the game as favourites against a young German side which has played efficient but far from glittering football on the way to the final.

The Germans have only beaten Brazil three times in 17 friendlies since 1963. All the German victories were on home soil. They last beat Brazil 2-1 in Cologne in 1993.

Turkey will now play Korea in the third-place playoff game in the South Korean city of Taegu on Saturday. The Turks started brightly but were eventually overrun by Brazil's attacking play.

Fans in football-mad Brazil watched the game at breakfast time. In Turkey, World Cup fever was apparent from the early hours with cars and balconies sporting the red Turkish flag and television presenters dressed in the national colours red and white.

Public workers were given time off to watch the match, broadcast in the afternoon, and financial markets came to a grinding halt at the kickoff.

Thousands gathered to watch the match in Istanbul's central Taksim square which was a mass of flags and balloons.

In only their second finals after 1954, the Turks performed much better than expected, beating co-hosts Japan and impressive Senegal in the knockout phase. But Brazil were a class too high.

Only seven countries have won the World Cup -- Argentina, England, France, Italy and Uruguay are the others -- and there have been World Cup meetings between all of them except for Brazil and Germany.

The first finals to be held in Asia are now poised for an historic game.

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