Samba turns somber as top-ranked Brazil ousted

Updated: Jul 03, 2010, 10:40 AM IST

Rio de Janeiro: Tears rolled down Paulo Gama’s face and his girlfriend sobbed in his arms as he stared in disbelief at the video screen on Copacabana beach.

The final whistle had signaled that Brazil - colossus of the football world and favorite to win the World Cup – was eliminated from the tournament in a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands.

Across the famous beach, heads bowed and many of the 20,000 people there crumpled to the white sand. Grandfathers holding babies cried. Brazil’s colors of canary yellow and green streaked down faces painted with the national flag.

Children looked up to their mothers at the grief around them.

“On Sunday, the sun will not rise,” Gama said.

That was all he could say. It was all anyone could say in this land of Carnival and samba, where a passionate people mourn as acutely as they celebrate.

“It’s over. It’s over. I cannot believe that it is over,” said Luciano Barreto, using the Brazil jersey in his hand to wipe his face. Earlier, when top-ranked Brazil took a 1-0 lead and looked like it was cruising toward an easy victory, that same shirt was proudly waved in the air with the certainty of a win and heading toward a sixth World Cup title.

Robinho, the nimble-footed, goal-scoring wizard, had given Brazil the lead in the 10th minute. Just two minutes before, he had a goal waved off for an offside call.

But the Netherlands found its footing and equalized in the 53rd when a shot bounced off the head of Brazil’s Felipe Melo into his own goal.

The goal that crushed the hearts of 190 million Brazilian fans came in the 68th minute, when Wesley Sneijder scored with a header following a corner kick.

“Oh, my God! Only a miracle can save us now!” Vera Lucia said to the brilliant blue Brazilian sky seconds later. “Oh Lord, save us!”

A minute after the final result, Lucia gathered her two teenage girls in her arms, hugged them fiercely and wept.

“I cannot find the words. I feel so much frustration, so much anger - but I do not know for whom,” she said. “I’m so disappointed. This was our year!”