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Sun. 21st June:
Germany v. Yugoslavia
Argentina v. Jamaica
Team USA v. Iran
The average age of the Germans is the oldest in the World Cup finals. Perhaps they need some fresh blood in the squad, and the World Cup some new faces in the finals.
In the thirteenth minute, Mijatovic drove in a long ball that Stankovic almost touched past the advancing Köpke.
The Yugoslavian team have nothing to do with the problems in Kosovo, and many of the Yugoslav fans at the finals probably live and work in Germany or the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It was nice to see some players of the two teams have photographs taken together before the start of the match.
Petrovic forced a flying save from Köpke just before the half-hour -- nothing so positive or threatening from the Germans though.
On the 33rd minute, Darko Kovacevic beat the offside and ran the ball off his chest, only to see his chance cleared by the presence of Köpke. The corner that followed was another scramble for the German goalkeeper and his defenders. General Vogts had to rethink the positioning of his rusty panzers. (Half-time: 0-1).
The General sent on Matthäus as his Lieutenant to try and shore up the rearguard. They started with confidence-inspiring square balls across the half-way line. Maybe the strategy was to avoid a revenge-seeking England in the quarter finals. These cart horses would surely struggle on this performance.
Nine minutes into the second half, and Andreas Köpke gave away the second goal. Johanovic came into the area on the end of a one-two and released the ball to the right. Kovacevic sent in a low cross that the aging German goalkeeper collected and then let slip underneath him for Stojkovic to punt in.
In the 74th minute the German's were given a lifeline -- Tarnat's free-kick deflected in by Mihajlovic for the tournament's fourth own goal. The Germans were mobile again. Kirsten, on for Möller, had his header deflected. From the corner, Bierhoff's header was pushed onto the post and Klinsmann's opportunity for the sucker punch was cleared off his head by Jugovic.
Two more corners, and Bierhoff headed home.
For the last five mintes, Germany were without Klinsmann and down to ten
men -- all substitutes were used in Vogt's reshuffle.
With Jamaica needing to win, and a draw not really good enough for Argentina, both teams opened positively. If end to end stuff is a cliche, then I'm using it anyway.
The first push came from Argentina -- Barrett saving point blank from Sensini, in the fifth minute. Darryl Powell had already earned himself a needless yellow card too early in the game.
A Wimbledon style long ball released Portsmouth's Paul Hall on the right wing. Hall was pulled down near the edge of the area; the free-kick blasted at the keeper on the near post.
Ortega tried a high shot on the quarter hour. Barrett caught it firmly and danced back over the line -- good job he's got long arms. Nine minutes later, Ortega dribbled through five players and wasted all his hard work over the bar.
With Jamaica trying to use Hall out wide, Veron profited from the space in the middle. Just after the half-hour, the Sampdoria midfielder instigated a fast one-two, and slipped the ball right to Ortega. No messing this time, Ortega chipped the ball between the sliding Jamaican 'keeper and the bar. Gooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllll.
If Jamaica thought that they might reply just before half time like they did against Croatia, then they were in for a shock.
Instead of a goal, they lost a player. Powell was booked again and sent off. (Half-time: 1-0).
With the extra man advantage, Argentina slowed the game down in possession. When Jamaica did get the ball, they gave it away. Lopez found Batistuta; the shot off for a corner.
Ten minutes into the second half, Ortega played the one-two and accelerated with the ball, á la Maradonna, into the box for his second goal. The change of beat stunned the Reggae Boyz.
Jamaica tried to pull back the two goal deficit like others before them in this tournament, but an off touch Batistuta finally found the target twenty minutes before the end to effectively put Jamaica and Japan out of the tournament. Seven minutes later Batistuta added his second. A penalty in the 82nd gave Batistuta his hatrick; the first of the tournament.
Argentina and Croatia will decide the top two places
between themselves on the 26th, in Bordeaux -- Argentina top of the group at the moment on
I assume the Iranians knew the words to their national anthem; they certainly didn't know the tune.
Anyway, it's fair play day and after the joint photo call the Iranians presented the Americans with flowers and a giant commemorative silver platter. Maybe one day the politicians will get together too.
McBride thundered a header onto the crossbar in the opening minutes as the Americans tried to get off to a fair start.
After that, both teams cancelled each other out to a tremendous atmosphere of drums, whistles, and hooters. The ball travelled all over the pitch like a pinball machine with an expert on the flippers.
Keller felled Azizi as he entered the area for the ball, around the twentieth minute, but the man from Switzerland remained neutral.
Claudio Reyna slammed a shot against the lower part of the upright for the U.S. just after the half-hour; and still the ball didn't go down.
Iranians passed to Americans and Americans passed back to Iranians.
In the 40th minute the script changed. Javad Zarincheh crossed into an unmarked Hamid Estili in the middle of the area. Estili headed into the top left corner. (Half-time: 0-1).
I've heard a lot of Americans moan about some of the football in the World Cup, but they've finally shown the world that there is something that they are not too good at either.
America had a lot of the possession in the second half, but still they couldn't put one of them away. Regis made it a woodwork hat-trick in the 73rd minute -- no wonder the Americans wanted to make the goals larger.
The Swiss referee booked Javad Zarincheh for not leaving the field fast enough when his number was called.
Mehdi Mahda Vikia ran the full half to score Iran's second, with McBride getting a consolation header five minutes, from time.
Keller wanted to come up for a last minute corner á la Chilavert, but his team-mates didn't wait.
Will Steve Sampson get the sack along with the Saudi and Korean coaches after this?
(Final Score: 1-2).
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