Kaka sent off but Brazil march on
Two goals from Luis Fabiano and one from Elano sealed the win which was blighted by a late red card shown to playmaker Kaka two minutes from time.
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Coasting and untroubled at 3-0 and with the game drifting to its obvious conclusion, Ivory Coast pulled a goal back when captain Didier Drogba headed home and seven minutes later the game exploded into life in the wrong way with a fracas that seemed utterly at odds with what had gone on before.
It began when Ivorian substitute Kader Keita crashed to the ground in apparant agony holding his face after television replays showed he had been barely nudged in the chest by Kaka, and the Ivorians obvious frustrations boiled over.
Players pushed and shoved and ran at each other before referee Stephane Lannoy, who failed to spot at least two handling offences by Luis Fabiano in the buildup to his second goal, flashed a second yellow card at Kaka and sent him off.
"It was totally unjust. He (Kaka) was the one who suffered the foul," Brazil coach Dunga said after the game.
Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was also critical of the French referee for allowing Fabiano's second goal.
"It's difficult to cope with Luis Fabiano and even more difficult if he's allowed to use its hands. Of course, it's handball, not once by twice," Eriksson said.
"They got a goal free, a 2-0 goal which changed everything."
Despite their dominance, the only memorable action of an otherwise poor first half came when Luis Fabiano lashed the ball high into the roof of the net past goalkeeper Boubacar Barry for the opener after 25 minutes.
A smart backheel and a fortunate one-two with Kaka led to the goal while Luis Fabiano, who has been out of form recently, showed some nice individual skill, and got the benefit of two dubious handballs for his second 25 minutes later.
Elano, who scored in their opening 2-1 win over North Korea made it 3-0 eight minutes later after Kaka crossed from the left leaving Elano with a simple tap-in from close range.
Ivory Coast hardly put any pressure on newly-moustachioed Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar after going behind with Drogba, seeming to spend most of the match shouting for his team mates to pass him the ball, rather than actually doing anything with it.
When all seemed lost though, Sven-Goran Eriksson's side, suddenly found some invention with substitute Gervinho creating the goal with a surging run up field before Drogba headed home their consolation.
Despite drawing their opening match and losing this one, Ivory Coast still have a chance of qualifying, but Portugal will be favourites to join Brazil in the last 16 if they beat North Korea in Cape Town on Monday.