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Brazil’s double trouble

Stars Fabiano, Kaka work together as one

JOHANNESBURG – A quick look. A pass. A goal. Another assist from Kaka and another goal by Luis Fabiano for Brazil.

The pair have come up big for the five-time champions at the World Cup, teaming up like they did when they played for Brazilian club Sao Paulo before becoming top stars in Europe.

Fabiano has scored three goals in four matches in South Africa, two of them after passes from Kaka. The two have created some of the most dangerous scoring chances for their team at the World Cup, leaving opponents humbled with their crafty moves.

“We have a perfect connection,” Fabiano said. “We understand each other. I just have to get in position and I know he will get the ball to me.”

Kaka set up Fabiano with a perfect through ball in Brazil’s 3-1 win over Ivory Coast in the group stage, leaving the striker in front of the net for the team’s first goal.

On Monday, in the 3-0 win against Chile in the second round, Kaka one-touched a quick pass to Fabiano inside the area, who dribbled past the goalkeeper before finding the open net for the team’s second goal.

“We have a very good connection, especially because of the time we played together for Sao Paulo. One look is enough to know what we are going to do,” Kaka said. “I hope to give him many more assists in the rest of the World Cup and that he ends up as the top scorer.”

Kaka and Fabiano played for Sao Paulo from 2001-03, winning the 2001 Rio-Sao Paulo title and reaching the final stages of the Brazilian championship in 2002. Kaka left for AC Milan in 2003, while Fabiano moved to FC Porto in 2004 and then to Sevilla in Spain a year later.

Fabiano was the leading scorer in last year’s Confederations Cup with five goals in five matches, including two in the final against the United States to help Brazil win the title.

This year he is trailing Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain, Spain’s David Villa and Slovakia’s Robert Vittek, who each have four.

“I’m trying to help Brazil win the title, that’s what I want,” said Fabiano, whose other goal at this tournament also was against Ivory Coast. “If in the end I’m also the top scorer, better.”

Kaka arrived at the World Cup as Brazil’s biggest star, but he struggled to stay in shape after a season plagued by injuries with Real Madrid. He has yet to score a goal, but said he is perfectly happy sticking with the playmaking role in South Africa.

“That’s fine,” Kaka said. “Of course everyone wants to score goals in a World Cup, but honestly, it’s not something I worry too much about.”

Surprisingly, this year the sportsmanlike playmaker has also been making headlines for some on-the-field trouble. Kaka missed Brazil’s match against Portugal in the group stage because of a late red card against Ivory Coast – in a collision that could easily have been a no-call. He also received a yellow card on Monday against Chile, his third in three matches.

“I’ll try to be more careful now,” Kaka said. “I don’t want to run the risk of missing a semifinal in the World Cup.”