Brazil Celebrates Fifth World Cup Title

The sounds of car horns, plastic trumpets and fireworks filled the air Sunday as Brazil celebrated an unprecedented fifth World Cup title.

Thousands of beach-goers danced in their bathing suits and yellow Brazil jerseys to the music of samba drums before a giant-screen TV on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach.

It hardly mattered that the sun bleached the screen, making it hard to follow the game.

Tears smudged the green and yellow paint on the faces of teenagers, and strangers hugged each other amid cries of "Brazil! Brazil!" and "Five-time champion!"

"I'm so happy, it was difficult for the first half, but now I'm going to party all week. I hope they declare tomorrow a holiday," 15-year-old Monica Maia said. nearby, her family jumped up and down waving Brazilian flags.

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who watched the game in Brasilia, the nation's capital, issued a statement praising the team's success.

"The tears of Ronaldo, of Big Phil and the other players in the moment of the final whistle are the tears of emotion and joy of all the Brazilian people," the statement read. "You have shown, with talent, character and team spirit, that our soccer continues to be the best in the world."

Across the nation, from the Pampas to the Amazon rainforest, fans could barely contain their joy.

In Belem, at the mouth of the Amazon river, more than a 100,000 people converged on Ramos Plaza in the center of town to celebrate.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, hundreds of thousands of revelers clogged the main street, waving flags, parading and singing over the din of car horns.

In the northeastern city of Salvador da Bahia, tens of thousands clogged the colonial center where the band Olodum played the national anthem in a samba rhythm.

Many churches opened late Sunday in honor of the game and many bars stayed open all night, continuing service as the afternoon approached.

"My daughter is dating a German and even he was rooting for Brazil," said Maria Valeria Barbosa Barcelos as she bounced her 4-year-old granddaughter, wearing a No. 9 Ronaldo shirt, up and down in her arms.

After a difficult qualifying run, Brazilians had been slow to get in the World Cup spirit, but now they were making up for lost time.

"Ronaldo knocks over the Berlin Wall," read a celebratory headline on the Globo Web site, and much of the praise was reserved for the star who scored both of the game's goals after suffering through 2 years of knee problems.

"Ronaldo deserved this chance to show he really is the best player in the world," 23-year-old Roberto Miranda da Silva said. "He's the new Pele."

The victory silenced even the staunchest of critics who had complained about Brazil's game and strategy.

"Brazil won because of its individual talent, not because it has a cohesive team," 51-year-old lawyer Jorge Ganem said. "But remember, this is a young team, they still have two or three more Cups in them."