The World Cup Calendar: June 10th, Boyd wins it for Brazil!

No, Brazil don’t have a player named Boyd, or Boydinho, for that matter. The Boyd that won it for Brazil, in the opening match of the 1998 World Cup in France, was actually an own goal by Celtic right back Tom Boyd. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. I’ll back up a little. It was an entertaining game, in which Brazil were made to work incredibly hard against a tenacious Scotland side who refused to give the Samba Boys the easy three points they predicted. On a glorious summer evening at the Stade de France, the Tartan Army prepared for a backs against the wall job against a star-studded Brazilian team, which included names such as Rivaldo, Bebeto, and a talented young striker by the name of Ronaldo. It was a daunting prospect, but a challenge in which Scotland handled admirably.

The start was certainly not ideal for Scotland. Brazilian midfielder Dunga received the ball, over thirty yards out and hit a wicked shot towards goal. The shot grazed the head off a Scottish defender, causing it to bounce awkwardly near goal and out for a corner, forcing Scotland keeper Jim Leighton to dive to his right to protect his goal. Bebeto hit a pacey corner to the front post. Midfielder Cesar Sampario found space between two Scots to flick the ball into the back of the net.

Brazil must have felt that this was going to be the points in the bag. An early goal settled the nerves of Brazil, who had gone some time without playing competitive football, due to winning the World Cup in 1994. Left back Roberto Carlos stung the gloves of Jim Leighton with a powerful drive from the left side of the 18-yard box. Current World Player of the Year, Ronaldo, sent full-backs Tom Boyd and Christian Daily packing with his devastating turn of pace and speed with the ball at his feet. He hit a shot low to the left of the keeper,
forcing Leighton into yet another save!

Scotland stayed resolute, however, and eventually caught a break. Paul Lambert launched a ball high into the box. Kevin Gallacher nodded the ball into the six-yard box before Brazilan goal scorer Cesar Sampario hauled down the incoming Scottish forward. The referee brandished Sampario a yellow card and pointed to the spot. John Collins, a man who is fairly well hated in Scotland after some disparaging comments about the standards of Scottish football, was hated a little less on June 10th 1998. Scotland’s number 11 hit the ball low and
hard, equalising for the Scots and giving the Tartan Army a sense of hope at half-time. Brazil had been throwing punches at Scotland, but no knockout blow had been landed. Yet.

Into the Scotland half and astoundingly, Scotland very nearly took the lead. Some clever link-up play on the left flank between Collins and Gallacher saw latter collect the ball in the Brazilian 18-yard box and fire a cross low along the six-yard box. Brazil’s goalkeeper, Taffarel,
threw himself at the ball, missing it, causing a brief moment of chaos in the heart of the Brazilian defence. The ball hit off a defenders legs and very nearly rolled into the net, but was quickly hooked away to safety. It was certainly a scare for the World Champions, who had spent the first half in a state of near total dominance. This may have been the wake-up call the Samba Boys needed.

With 15 minutes to go, Dunga hit a ball over the Scottish back line and into the box. Roma right back Cafu latched on to the pass, despite the flailing legs of a now on his back Gordon Durie, and flicked the ball with the outside of his boot towards goal. The ball hit Jim Leighton in the chest, yet another save for the Aberdeen shot-stopper, and the ball bounced straight out and hit helpless defender Tom Boyd, ricocheting off his throat and bouncing into the back of the net, just a little too hard and fast for the outstretched leg of Colin Hendry to stop.

Scotland put together a couple of forward moves to get a goal back, but Brazil coasted a relatively easy final fifteen to see out the game. The result was hard to take for Scotland, who, despite being up against it for large periods of the game, may have felt more than a little aggrieved to walk off the pitch without a single point. Heads could be held high by the Scots.

It is changed days to the current crop of Scottish players, who haven’t graced an international football tournament since that month in France in 1998. A clever set piece from Brazil and an unfortunate own goal being the difference maker for a team with the players voted number one and two in the world within their ranks. For Brazil, this was certainly not the easy three points that they may have expected, but nonetheless, it was three points on the board. There was some consolation for Scotland, who at least could claim to be defeated by the eventual tournament runners-up.

Tomorrow’s game: June 11th. South Africa v Mexico. 2010.