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Brazil weather Zimbabwe storm

HARARE, June 2 – Brazil weathered a Zimbabwe storm before scoring twice late in the opening half to set up a 3-0 victory on Wednesday in a World Cup warm-up game here.It was easy in the end for the team ranked first in the world against one that does not even feature among the top 100, but the South Americans stamped their authority only after surviving several goalmouth scares.

There will be one more African safari for the Brazilians, against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam next Monday, before they face likely Group G whipping boys North Korea on June 15 in Johannesburg.

Left-back Michel Bastos converted a free-kick on 41 minutes, Robinho snatched an opportunist second three minutes later and Elano grabbed a soft third goal 11 minutes into the second half.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were among a capacity crowd as Brazil faced African rivals for only the fifth time in their history after matches against Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.

The ‘Warriors’ should have taken the lead on 19 minutes when shambolic Brazilian defending presented France-based Ovidy Karuru with a glorious close-range chance he blazed over.

Zimbabwe, who have never qualified for the World Cup, were stroking the ball about with the same aplomb as the five-time winners in warm, overcast weather at the 60,000-capacity National Stadium.

They came close again when livewire striker Knowledge Musona won a goalmouth aerial duel only to be denied by a diving parry from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who had replaced Julio Cesar a few minutes earlier.

Warm-up games do carry the risk of injuries and Brazilian hearts pumped a little faster 10 minutes before half-time when star midfielder Kaka briefly clutched his right leg after a hard but fair challenge.

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Left-back has been a problem position for Brazil since father time caught up with legend Roberto Carlos and Lyon man Bastos did his claims for a permanent place no harm by opening the scoring.

A free-kick outside the penalty area and right of the near post presented the opportunity and he notched his first international goal with an unstoppable shot that flew into the roof of the net.

If Zimbabwe suspected football gods can be cruel, the view was confirmed soon after when they failed to cut out a Maicon pass and Robinho brought his national team goal tally to 21 with a close-range shot.

Coach Dunga, a World Cup winner in 1994 as a combative midfielder, rang the changes during the interval by introducing defenders Dani Alves and Luisao and midfielder Julio Baptista.

Zimbabwe skipper Benjani Mwaruwari, a doubtful starter for the biggest football fixture in the 30-year history of the nation, gave way early in the second half for Kingston Nkatha.

Brazil were in cruise control and went three goals ahead when Dani Alves burst into the penalty area and passed to Elano, who had all the time and space in the world to stroke the ball over the line.

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