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   June 30, 2002 | 1850 IST


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Irrepressible "Three Rs" strike again

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Brian Homewood

Germany just about kept Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho under wraps in the first half but Brazil's irrespressible "Three Rs" attack proved unstoppable after the break of Sunday's World Cup final.

Ronaldo's two title-winning goals, his seventh and eighth goals of the competition, sealed a record fifth title for Brazil and came after a frustrating first half in which he missed three clearcut chances.

Brazil's Ronaldo (L) celebrates with team mates Ronaldinho (R) and Roque Junior (C) after scoring his first goal.Ronaldo saw two shots saved by Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and clipped another wide of the post. He seemed to be a couple of metres slower than his markers throughout the first 45 minutes.

But, not to be denied, the 'Phenomenon' came into his own in the second half, scoring from a rebound after Kahn failed to hold Rivaldo's shot and then striking from the edge of the area after Rivaldo wrongfooted the German defence with a clever dummy.

Like Ronaldo, Rivaldo had failed to impress in the first half. The shot which led to the first goal was one of the few occasions he made an impact on the game after an opening 45 minutes in which he was almost anonymous.

Ronaldinho also had a frustrating start. He was repeatedly dispossessed in midfield as he failed to come to terms with the German marking, though he also managed to create two openings for Ronaldo with defence-splitting passes.

Instead, Kleberson, who was a reserve until the quarter-final against England, was Brazil's most effective early on.

He set up one chance with a charging run down the right and cross and was twice close to scoring.

He burst through middle on to a pass by Cafu but shot wide with his left foot and, just before the break, hit the crossbar with a dipping shot from well outside the penalty area.

At the back, Edmilson made two timely interventions when he cut out crosses with Miroslav Klose lurking in the middle to save Brazil in the first 15 minutes.

But once again, the Olympique Lyon defender had Brazilian fans close to a collective nervous breakdown as he repeatedly played his way out of trouble, often dribbling past opposing forwards.

Goalkeeper Marcos once again made a crucial contribution. Although he was rarely tested, Marcos prevented Brazil from falling behind when he tipped Oliver Neuville's swerving free-kick onto the post with his fingertips in the 48th minute.

Two crucial saves after Ronaldo's second goal cemented an excellent tournament for the man known at his club as "Saint Marcos."

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