PORT ELIZABETH - Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo
failed to heed his father's warnings on Friday when he was sent
off for recklessly stamping on Arjen Robben in their 2-1 World
Cup quarter-final defeat by Netherlands.
Having scored an own goal early in the second half, the
bruising midfielder firmly cast himself as the villain of the
peace when Brazil fell at the last eight stage for the second
World Cup in a row.
Felipe Melo has been habitually booked over the last two
seasons, something he recently said he regards as an
occupational hazard, and has also been red carded six times -
twice each with Fiorentina, Juventus and Brazil.
Before the World Cup, many Brazilians, including his father,
were worried his tendency to rash challenges could leave their
team down to 10 men at the crucial stage of a knockout match.
It was exactly what happened.
Brazil were trailing 2-1 with 17 minutes to play when Felipe
Melo lost his cool, stamped on Dutch winger Robben and left his
team in an almost impossible situation.
Felipe Melo, whose earlier solid performances had won him
plaudits, said: "There's no way I'm the villain of the 2010
"It was a collective mistake. When I was sent off, it was
already 2-1... I accept my share of the blame. I apologise to
the Brazilian fans because we wanted to be world champions and
it didn't work out."
Coach Dunga bravely stood up for him but must know Felipe
Melo will be savaged by the media when Brazil get home.
"As the commander of Brazil, I have to take most of the
blame," Dunga told reporters.
"It would be unjust to blame Felipe Melo now. When we win,
everyone shares the credit. It's the same when we lose."
Returning from a one-match injury absence, Felipe Melo began
well, threading a superb pass through the Netherlands midfield
to set up Robinho's opening goal early in the game.
But he was already getting riled by the niggly Dutch and his
day began to unravel in the 53rd minute when he got in front of
his goalkeeper Julio Cesar and flicked Wesley Sneijder's cross
into his own net.
Twenty minutes later he was dismissed and may well have left
the pitch haunted by his own words before the finals.
"I've really prepared for this World Cup," he said on the
eve of their opening game. "I know that I can't afford to get
sent off and leave Brazil with a man short."
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