Right from the kick-off, Lannoy was clearly going to engage with the players, talking to them, lecturing them, showing his irritation. Back and forth the game went, with hefty challenges, some from behind, some late, coming from both teams. The Ivory Coast held out for twenty-five minutes before Brazil scored, after which I got the sense that the Africans were going to intensify their defensive efforts. At 31 minutes, a body-check incensed the Brazilian coach Dunga, and his outburst prompted the referee to issue his first caution for a foul. Several times Lannoy stopped the proceedings to separate and lecture players about their tanglings in the mass of bodies at set-pieces near goal. Evidently the referees had been told by the referee committee to be more aware of the mauling that goes on at corners and free kicks.
At about fifty minutes, Brazil scored again, aided by skills you normally associate with basketball or volleyball. Fabiano handled twice, above his head, before bringing the ball under control and thrashing it into the net. No one complained but the referee himself was suspicious and shared a comment and a smile with Fabiano, who protested his innocence.
One-down most teams can handle, but two-down in the second half makes life difficult for players on the losing end. Determination decays to aggression; spirited play ferments into anger; anger becomes directed at specific tormentors. Fabiano was fouled, then Kaka the creative force from Brazil. Words flew back and forth, fingers pointed, with shoving here and there. A third goal came at 65 minutes, and all hope for the Ivory Coast evaporated, as did their self-control.
A minute later studs lunged into the shin of Elano, the scorer. He had to leave the field, yet Lannoy issued only a caution! Kaka was bundled over more than once; words were exchanged. At seventy-four minutes studs came flying in at knee height to another Brazilian, and only his raised leg saved his ligaments. Keita received a mere caution, Drogba scored to make it 3-1. Kaka and Tiote were booked in quick succession as they bristled and taunted each other. In a crowd a moment later, Kaka was bumped from behind by an opponent he couldn't see, but his assailant collapsed in a heap, holding his face as though he'd been punched or elbowed. The referee had not seen what we saw on the screen, but pulled a yellow and a red card on Kaka, who walked off, innocent, disgusted and muttering.
Brazil won, and they won't need to win their third match. The beautiful game lost. Two potentially injurious fouls went improperly punished; a goal was scored illegally; a player was sent off unjustly. Monsieur Lannoy has had two games, and I daresay he won't get another. That would be a good decision.