On this day: Ronaldinho lobs David Seaman as Brazil progress

Brazil's Ronaldinho lobs England goalkeeper David Seaman on June 21, 2002.
© Getty Images
Twelve years ago today, a misjudgment from David Seaman costs England dearly as Ronaldinho sends Brazil into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

David Seaman is one of the best goalkeepers that England has ever produced. He featured at four major tournaments, including Euro '96, where his heroics in denying both Scotland and Spain from the penalty spot helped drive the Three Lions to the semi-finals in front of a home crowd.

Yet, where his international career is concerned, the former Arsenal stopper is best remembered for the events that took place in Shizuoka 12 years ago today.

Having defeated rivals Argentina in the group stages, before easing beyond Denmark courtesy of a 3-0 victory, Sven-Goran Eriksson's England had reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Their opponents would be the formidable Brazil, who had appeared in the previous two finals.

Nevertheless, while the South Americans had an attack to be feared - the three R's (Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo) - there was a hope among the Three Lions faithful that with Lucio and Roque Junior in defence, the Brazilians were by no means infallible.

With 23 minutes on the clock, that optimism turned into reality. Emile Heskey's chipped pass from midway inside the Brazil half was intended for an advancing Michael Owen, but the ball fell short and Lucio was there to intercept. However, rather than clear the danger, the Brazilian centre-back's first touch was too heavy, which tempted an alert Owen to pounce. He did just that as he committed Marcos off his line, before he smartly lifted the ball into the net from 12 yards out.

The fans that had made the trip to the Far East were in buoyant mood, but their jubilation was cut short just moments before the break. David Beckham and Paul Scholes both lost challenges, which presented possession to Ronaldinho on the halfway line. He drove at the England back four, one of whom, Ashley Cole, was wrongfooted by a stepover from the playmaker. As he reached the edge of the area a shot looked inevitable, but a short pass to the right picked out Rivaldo, who in turn curled a low shot inside Seaman's far post.

The sucker punch then arrived just five minutes after the restart. Brazil were awarded what appeared to be an innocuous free kick 40 yards from the England goal out towards the right touchline. All of those in the box, including Seaman, were expecting Ronaldinho to loft in a cross for his teammates to contest. He had other ideas, though, and produced a perfectly flighted shot that drifted over a back-pedalling Seaman, but had just enough dip to enter the net underneath the crossbar.

It was actually Ronaldinho that handed England a lifeline in the 58th minute when he was given a straight red card for a late challenge on right-back Danny Mills, but in the Japanese sunshine, the 1966 champions were unable to make their numerical advantage count as Brazil held on to secure their place in the semi-finals of a tournament that they would ultimately go on to win.

In the minutes that followed the final whistle, Seaman's teammates flocked to defend their goalkeeper. Skipper Beckham was at the forefront, saying: "If anyone makes a scapegoat out of David Seaman after that it will be an absolute disgrace. He's been the best goalkeeper in the tournament. It was a freak goal that was a cross that ended up in the net."

Meanwhile, Teddy Sheringham weighed in with: "Seaman is still the world's best. Goals like that happen sometimes. If you saw him in training and watched him in the World Cup you would see why I still think he is the number one."

ENGLAND: Seaman; Mills, Campbell, Ferdinand, A Cole (Sheringham); Beckham, Scholes, Butt, Sinclair (Dyer); Owen (Vassell), Heskey

BRAZIL: Marcos; Carlos, Junior, Lucio, Cafu; Edmilson, Gilberto, Kleberson; Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (Edilson), Rivaldo

English midfielder Joe Cole celebrates after scoring during the opening round Group B World Cup football match Sweden vs. England, 20 June 2006
Read Next:
OTD: England top group after draw with Sweden
>
You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole



Tables