They forced the ball into their opponent's zone. They made clean, crisp passes. They worked their fans into a frenzy, scoring spectacular goals from angles even the Warren Commission would have trouble believing.
In short, Brazil finally played like Brazil, soundly beating Ghana 4-2, and the remaining three teams should be forewarned:
"We are here for the gold," bellowed coach Mario Zagallo, who has helped Brazil to four World Cup titles as a player and coach. "It means a lot to us, as much as another World Cup."
The victory puts Brazil into the semifinals Wednesday in Athens, Ga., against Nigeria, which Brazil beat, 1-0, at the Orange Bowl Thursday night. The winner of that match plays the winner of Argentina/Portugal for the gold medal.
The 45,257 fans who came to send Brazil off to the medal round were treated to the kind of explosive show of offense _ three unanswered goals in the second-half _ that Brazil only had hinted at in its previous three games.
Forward Ronaldinho, benefiting from all the attention Ghana showered on Bebeto, scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 62nd minute on a lob from an impossible angle _ just inside the goal line left of the 6-yard box.
Bebeto added the clincher 11 minutes later, taking a perfect pass from Roberto Carlos and scoring from virtually the same spot as Ronaldinho _ but somehow bending the ball around the left post and roofing it.