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Wed. 24th June:
France v. Denmark
Sth. Africa v. Saudi Arabia
Nigeria v. Paraguay
Spain v. Bulgaria
Just what the tournament needs; another dubious penalty in the opening minutes, and I'm starting to hate this World Cup and the words from Platini: The World Cup needs Italy, and with that I suppose he means France too. The World Cup needs courageous referees.
Djorkaeff converted the spot kick in the thirteenth minute -- unlucky for Denmark.
Another cock-up penalty decision, this time for Denmark -- two players tumble over each other half a mile from the ball -- goal Michael Laudrup.
Don't referees understand the importance of these games. Heaven forbid
that the final will be decided by who has a player sent off first or some other absurd
interpretation of Blatter's statement. Has Blatter ever played football?
A real goal in the 52nd minute, after a free-for all in the box fell
towards the outside of the area for Emmanuel Petit
to strike past Schmeichel.
Bartlett scored for South Africa in the 17th minute. A penalty for Saudi Arabia just before half-time levels the scores; Al-Jaber. (Half-time: 1-1)
The fourth penalty of the afternoon went to Saudi Arabia in the 73rd
minute, and penalty number five to South Africa in injury time: Al-Thyniyan
and a last-minute consulation for Bartlett.
With Nigeria already fixed up to play Denmark in the second round, Paraguay needed to win if they wanted to stay in the tournament and play the hosts. Ayala headed home in the first minute to make sure that Paraguay didn't have another 0-0 draw to offer the millions of football fans around the world.
Chilavert's clean sheet went nine minutes later as the Nigerian reserves fought back; Oruma brought the scores level. The Thai referee had been one of the better officials of the tournament on his earlier showing, but he fell for a Paraguay dive and roly poly; the yellow card should have gone to the actor rather than the Nigerian. (Half-time: 1-1)
Benitez added another goal for Paraguay in the 58th minute, receiving a square ball and powering it in under the bar from the edge of the semi-circle. Cardozo ended any hopes Spain had for another Nigeria equalizer, and Chilavert celebrated Paraguay's rogress to the second round with a summersault at the other end . (Final Score: 1-3)
Spain needed to win this encounter against the candidates for alchoholics anonymous. Stoichkov was out drinking last week, and Ivanov looked as though he had been on a bender the night before.
Iordanov pushed Luis Enrique off the ball in the fifth minute; giving Hierro the chance to plug in penalty number six of the day. Thirteen minutes later Alfonso on the right pulled the ball back for Luis Enrique to run through the area and score without falling over. (Half-time: 2-0)
In the 53rd minute, Morientes made a superb diagonal run off the ball to collect his pass and make it three for Spain.
Kostadinov replied within four minutes to try and keep Bulgaria in with a shout. Within a minute Paraguay took the lead in the other game, but Spain continued to hunt for goals. Morientes bagged a second, ten minutes from time yet still no reply from Nigeria.
When Paraguay scored their third in the 85th minute, this game became meaningless.
The fifth goal for Spain was rather bizarre: Kiko's header came off the bar, hit Zdravkov on the back, and bounced off an unfortunate Bachev holding the post -- own goal number five of the tournament. Kiko didn't even bother to celebrate his last-minute goal, and Spain's sixth; they were going nowhere -- Paraguay had found the scoring touch against the Nigerian reserves.
Joy for the French fans, as a Spanish side playing like this would have given them problems. (Final Score: 6-1)
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