For a couple of hours, the World Cup got the perfect panacea in a week flush with hooligan violence and griping teams: a dazzling performance from world champion Brazil.
In an entertaining display of elegance and artistry topped with a measure of samba-style showboating, Ronaldo and the Brazilians totally dismantled Morocco 3-0 Tuesday night and became the first team to clinch a berth in the second round."We played joyful, sparkling and efficient soccer," coach Mario Zagallo said. "I'm happy with everything - the defense, the midfield and the attack."
The joy that Brazil brought to the field contrasted with the daunting task faced by French police, who are bracing for another round of fan violence as English supporters make their way from Marseille to Toulouse, site of England's next game against Romania on Monday.
About 1,000 English fans are already reported in the city, prompting officials to postpone a weekend music festival until July 11. Owners of shops, bars and restaurants say they will either close early or completely while the English are in town.
As they did in the United States in 1994, the Brazilians got to the second round with a match to spare as Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Bebeto scored to make it two wins in as many games. When Ronaldo side-stepped a defender in a marvelous run to set up Bebeto with a deft pass for the third goal in the 50th minute, showtime had begun.
Poor Morocco didn't manage even one shot on goal the entire game.
Brazil's final first-round game, against Norway in Marseille on June 23, will now be meaningful only for the Norwegians, who drew 1-1 with Scotland in Tuesday's other game. If Norway doesn't pull off a huge upset, the second team to advance with Brazil from Group A will be decided by the Scotland-Morocco game to be played at the same time.