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Maicon breaks ice, Brazil edges North Korea, 2-1

Brazil striker Robinho, left, celebrates with Brazil's defender

Brazil striker Robinho, left, celebrates with Brazil's defender Maicon after his second-half goal. (June 16, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Brazil defender Maicon scored Brazil's first goal of the 2010 World Cup -- a remarkable strike at an acute angle that begs the question ... did he mean it?

We'll try to dig up some quotes later (honest or otherwise), but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as Brazil picked up three points in a 2-1 win over North Korea Tuesday at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. The game-time temperature was in the 30s with a wind chill in the 20s.

Maicon's strike from the right wing, which whistled between keeper Ri Myong-Guk and the post, broke a scoreless deadlock after the North Koreans played dogged defense throughout most of the game. I think it was a 7-2-1. North Korea was playing in its first World Cup years since 1966 and is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament (105).

PHOTOS: 2010 World Cup

After Maicon's goal, the field opened up for both teams and it even allowed North Korea to get on the board late in the game. Ji Yun Nam scored in the 89th minute cut the deficit in half to make the final two minutes somewhat riveting.

Though we expected the Brazilians to emulate the German's drubbing of Australia and inflate the meager goal totals at this year's Cup, it took longer than expected to break through. After Maicon broke the ice, Elano supplied some insurance when he took a filthy through ball from Robinho in the 72nd minute and tucked it into the side netting for Brazil's second goal.

Brazil out-shot North Korea, 26-11 and controled 73 percent of the possession. It takes on the Ivory Coast Sunday afternoon.



In other news ...

-- Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who exited the team's first match against Paraguay at halftime, is still sore and is said to have a "serious" back problem with an uncertain timetable for returning.

-- American goalie Tim Howard continues to recover from his rib injury. He's even having a little fun with it.

-- German great Franz Beckenbauer, who won a World Cup title as a player and a coach, was highly critical of England's performance against the U.S., saying: "It looked to me as if the English have gone backwards into the bad old days of kick and rush.''


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