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1st Round Matches at France 1998

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Home: World Cup Finals: France 1998: Match Schedule: Day 10

The World United Through Football
Group matches at France 98 played on Friday, 19th June.

Travel to Nigeria Nigeria vs Travel to Bulgaria Bulgaria in Paris (1:0).

Travel to Spain Spain vs Travel to Paraguay Paraguay in St. Etienne (0:0).

Nigeria vs Bulgaria in Paris: (17:30)

The heat in Paris suited the Nigerians. The early possession was almost wholly theirs.

In the seventh minute, Oliseh blasted a free-kick through the wall that just shaved the outside of the post.

The five red cards of the previous day may have had a hand in the cautious middle period of this first-half.

The Chilean referee seemed more interested in letting play run though and it wasn't until the 19th minute that he booked the Nigerian, Adepoju. Shirt-pulling by both sides was not seen, or more probably ignored.

In the 26th minute, Nigeria started to play like Brazil. A move from Jay-Jay Okocha involved three swift, sharp, successive passes before it reached Ikpeba; in the Bulgarian area. He turned his defender and slipped it under Zdravkov.

The pace of the game livened up, although Stoitchkov and Kostadinov wasted chances for Bulgaria by trying to be the best on the field; instead of using each other for the best interest of the team.

Nigeria, on the other hand, were moving fluidly together: Lawal on the left; crossed deep, and the ball was headed back to Ikpeba in the middle of the area again.

In the 40th minute, a Bulgarian corner was punched out to Stoitchkov. The first time volley straight back to the boxer. Shortly after, Balakov did well to head on a ball for himself and run on to lob Rufai; who could only turn and watch it go wide.

Half-time: (1:0).

The second half ticked along at medium pace, with the most attractive build-ups coming from Nigeria; while Stoitchkov grumbled as usual.

In the 65th minute, the Bulgarian legend wasted an easy chance in front of goal, by his standards, and tried to bury his head in the turf.

Rashidi Yekini came on for the last fifteen minutes and almost set up Finidi.

Nigeria should have sealed the game, eight minutes before the end, but messed up in front of an open goal.

Bulgaria were not out of it and Kostadinov skimmed the bar, in the 86th minute.

The result is enough to take Nigeria into the second round.

Final Score:
Travel to Nigeria Nigeria 1 - Travel to Bulgaria Bulgaria 0

Our Man of the Match:
Okocha; a beacon throughout the match, despite the ginger hair.

Spain vs Paraguay in St. Etienne: (21:00)

Spain desperately needed to win this one, or at least not lose again.

Another one of those matches where the will to win was missing.

The early attacking came from Paraguay, much to the disappointment of the thousands of Spanish fans who made the journey across the Pyrennes, to St. Etienne.

Just after the quarter hour, the Spaniards started to come into the game. A Pizzi header towards the top left was pushed away by Chilavert, in the 20th minute. Chilavert slapped his defenders on the backside and tried to gee them up.

On the half hour, Sergi tried a run on the left wing.

For the most part though, watching George Best's beard grow would have been more exciting. Chilavert tried to get a few laughs by pinching a photographer's baseball cap, when he went to collect another wide shot. The lensman, sitting on his camera-case, didn't think it was too funny though.

Then in the thirty-eighth minute, Chilavert went up to take a Paraguay free-kick. He tried to psyche up the Spanish number one by suggesting that a goalkeeper would score against him, but crashed the attempt into the wall.

Spain seemed to click into over-drive every fifteen minutes and again they came close just before half-time. Raul received the ball in the area and turned his marker, Gamarra, only for Chilavert to palm away the shot. Pizzi was there again to follow up; blocked away by Ayala.

Half-time: (0:0).

Ten minutes into the second-half, Pizzi was replaced by Raul's Real Madrid partner, Francisco Morientes, to see if the chemistry would work for Spain.

Benitez ran the ball alone down the left for Paraguay and fired in; for an equally impressive flying save from Zubizaretta.

Raul's time to impress had run out and he was replaced by Kiko, of Athletic Madrid.

Arce was booked for taking too long over a corner towards the end. Both Arce and the referee knew that it was a farce and laughed. No hard feelings.

An 89th minute free-kick right on the line of the area for Spain. Another blank.

Paraguay acted as if they had won. I guess that says what they played for. Can Chilavert score against Nigeria?

Nigeria win group D, and anyone can finish second.

Final Score:
Travel to Spain Spain 0 - Travel to Paraguay Paraguay 0

Our Joker of the Match:

Teams by Group

Group A
Travel to Brazil Brazil, Travel to Morocco Morocco, Travel to Norway Norway, Travel to Scotland Scotland.

Group B
Travel to Austria Austria, Travel to Cameroon Cameroon, Travel to Chile Chile, Travel to Italy Italy.

Group C
Travel to Denmark Denmark, Travel to France France, Travel to Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, Travel to South Africa South Africa.

Group D
Travel to Bulgaria Bulgaria, Travel to Nigeria Nigeria, Travel to Paraguay Paraguay, Travel to Spain Spain.

Group E
Travel to Belgium Belgium, Travel to Holland Holland, Travel to Mexico Mexico, Travel to South Korea South Korea.

Group F
Travel to Germany Germany, Travel to Iran Iran, Travel to USA United States, Travel to Serbia Yugoslavia.

Group G
Travel to Colombia Colombia, Travel to England England, Travel to Romania Romania, Travel to Tunisia Tunisia.

Group H
Travel to Argentina Argentina, Travel to Croatia Croatia, Travel to Jamaica Jamaica, Travel to Japan Japan.

The Road to the Final

1998 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.

Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.

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Wednesday, 10th June:
Brazil vs Scotland
Morocco vs Norway

Thursday, 11th June:
Cameroon vs Austria
Italy vs Chile

Friday, 12th June:
France vs South Africa
Paraguay vs Bulgaria
Saudi Arabia vs Denmark

Saturday, 13th June:
Holland vs Belgium
South Korea vs Mexico
Spain vs Nigeria

Sunday, 14th June:
Argentina vs Japan
Jamaica vs Croatia
Yugoslavia vs Iran

Monday, 15th June:
England vs Tunisia
Germany vs United States
Romania vs Colombia

Tuesday, 16th June:
Brazil vs Morocco
Scotland vs Norway

Wednesday, 17th June:
Chile vs Austria
Italy vs Cameroon

Thursday, 18th June:
France vs Saudi Arabia
South Africa vs Denmark

Friday, 19th June:
Nigeria vs Bulgaria
Spain vs Paraguay

Saturday, 20th June:
Belgium vs Mexico
Holland vs South Korea
Japan vs Croatia

Sunday, 21st June:
Argentina vs Jamaica
Germany vs Yugoslavia
United States vs Iran

Monday, 22nd June:
Colombia vs Tunisia
Romania vs England

Tuesday, 23rd June:
Brazil vs Norway
Chile vs Cameroon
Italy vs Austria
Scotland vs Morocco

Wednesday, 24th June:
France vs Denmark
Nigeria vs Paraguay
South Africa vs Saudi Arabia
Spain vs Bulgaria

Thursday, 25th June:
Belgium vs South Korea
Germany vs Iran
Holland vs Mexico
United States vs Yugoslavia

Friday, 26th June:
Argentina vs Croatia
Colombia vs England
Japan vs Jamaica
Romania vs Tunisia

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