The eagerly anticipated match between Brazil and Portugal ended with a drab 0-0 draw.
The result means Portugal qualify ahead of the Ivory Coast in second place. Brazil, meanwhile, top the group and will play next the runners-up in Group H.
The match was a disappointing one, especially with so much attacking talent and flair on show. Nether team did not look like scoring, nor did they do enough to argue that they deserved the win.
Brazil – already qualified for the next stage – made a few changes. The suspended Kaka and injured Elano dropped out along with Robinho. Julio Baptista, Nilmar and Daniel Alves came in to replace the trio.
Portugal made four changes; with Duda, Danny, Pepe and Ricardo Costa all starting.
In what was a quiet opening, Brazil did dominate, and Alves’ speculative effort threatened the Portuguese defence, but it went well wide and was not really enough to trouble the goalkeeper Eduardo.
Portugal had to wait until the 18th minute to create their first real opportunity of the match. Tiago’s cross from the left hand side allowed Raul Meireles to volley from about 20 yards, but his effort was couple of yards off.
But, this apart, Portugal could hardly get a touch of the ball. The Brazilian’s technique, especially through Luis Fabiano and Alves, was exemplary.
In truth, the first 25 minutes was poor. This may be because a draw suited both teams. Brazil just needed a point to win the group, and an identical result for Portugal would stave off the threat of an Ivory Coast goal fest in their match against North Korea.
But the game suddenly came into life after half an hour.
Nilmar, firstly, benefited from a dangerous cross from Fabiano, but the tight angle was just too much. His sliding shot cracked off the crossbar after a fantastic save from Eduardo.
Then, moments later, Portugal had a shout for a penalty. Tiago was tripped inside the box by Gilberto Silva, but the contact was only slight and it looked more like a dive than anything else. The referee cautioned the Portuguese midfielder and quite right too.
Fabiano should have opened the scoring after 39 minutes. The cross from Maicon was good but the marking was poor. The Sevilla star found himself free just a few yards from goal, but somehow contrived to pull the header wide.
The first half ended with seven yellow cards (four to Portugal and three to Brazil) and no goals. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but not surprising considering the circumstances.
Right after the break, Cristiano Ronaldo was finally involved in the match. He made a good run down the left, but his cross was blocked by Lucio’s extended leg, which prevented a near goal.
And then his free-kick deflected of Pepe – his own team-mate – but, with Julio Cesar beaten, it dipped just over.
Brazil had started the second period in lethargic form. It was Portugal who were dictating the midfield; Dunga’s side happy to just sit off and hit on the counter attack.
And Meireles should have given Portugal the lead on the hour mark. Ronaldo’s good run was tackled well by Lucio, but the Inter Milan defender only managed to put the ball across goal to the incoming Meireles. However, instead of using his left foot, he chose the wrong option and the ball went wide after some good pressure by Cesar.
The tempo, at this stage, was very slow, and neither team was prepared to gamble. Portugal, however, looked the more likely, and with the score line in the other match in the group looking favourable, they had least to lose by taking a few risks.
As a Mexican wave flew right across the stadium inside the last 20 minutes, you just knew it wasn’t a game the neutrals were expecting or hoping for.
There were a few chances late on, though.
Alves got second chance after he delivered a poor corner. This time his cross was deep and it picked out Lucio. Unfortunately the header didn’t really test Eduardo, and it may have been a better option to pull it back across goal.
Substitute Ramires then tried an audacious chip, and it looked like it was going to land into the net. However, Eduardo, who has performed well throughout the tournament, managed to get his fingertips to the ball and divert it for a corner.
The last chance of the game came deep inside injury time, and it was Portugal who got it. Juan looked slow and cumbersome as he allowed Danny to go in on goal. But Cesar was quick of his line, and he clattered into the Portuguese midfielder, with the ball going out of play.
Portugal: Eduardo, Alves, Carvalho, Pepe (Mendes, 64), Costa, Coentao, Duda (Simao, 54), Danny, Raul Meireles (Veloso, 84), Tiago, Ronaldo.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos, Daniel Alves, Felipe Melo (Josue, 44), Baptista (Ramires, 82), Fabiano (Grafite, 85), Nilmar.